February 16, 2012
COLUMBIA, MO — The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) announced that it will join the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council (WFOIC) in hosting the 2012 FOI Summit in Madison, WI, May 11-12.
The annual FOI Summit, a national conference held in collaboration with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), will be at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club in downtown Madison.
“We’re thrilled to host this important event in a city and state that have stood for some of the best traditions of open government and participatory democracy,” said Bill Lueders, president of the WFOIC. “It is a great place from which to reestablish a commitment to these ideals for the future.”
NFOIC is a nonpartisan alliance of citizen-driven nonprofit freedom of information organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys.
NFOIC traces its origins to national assemblies that state freedom of information (FOI) advocates held in Dallas in 1989 and 1991. The 2011 Summit was held in Providence, RI.
Past years have seen Summits in Arlington, VA (2010), Minneapolis, MN (2009), Philadelphia, PA (2008), Seattle, WA (2007), and Indianapolis, IN (2006).
Headquartered at the Missouri School of Journalism since 2005, NFOIC promotes open government by supporting a broad range of groups and endeavors in individual states.
NFOIC Executive Director Kenneth F. Bunting said recent legislative, legal and administrative battles over citizen access to government records and meetings will provide “rich fodder for our annual conference program.”
“Our annual Summit allows our state affiliates and allies to share information, exchange ideas and learn about the many challenges we all face in keeping the people’s governments transparent and accessible,” Bunting said. “These gatherings serve both as a call to arms and a recharging of our energies.”
Besides supporting and coalescing its state and regional affiliate organizations, the NFOIC administers the Knight FOI Fund, which offers financial support to defray expenses in open government lawsuits. It offers a national, collective voice on freedom of information and transparency issues.
The Summit shines a light on the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and offers an opportunity for NFOIC members and others to get a clear view of disclosure and access laws, state by state. The conference brings together access advocates from all over the country to highlight recent successes and share ideas for combating secrecy in the future.
As always, organizers are planning a program that will include stimulating presentations and panels featuring experts, advocates and champions of transparency and open government. Recent Summits have included panels on technological tools for transparency, WikiLeaks, a comparison of state access and disclosure laws, and FOIA litigation.
Saturday's keynote luncheon will also feature the induction of a worthy individual into the State Open Government Hall of Fame, a tradition NFOIC launched in collaboration with the Society of Professional Journalists in 2003.
The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is a statewide nonprofit and nonpartisan group devoted to protecting public access to meetings and records. It has five active sponsoring organizations: The Wisconsin Newspaper Association, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, the Wisconsin Associated Press, Wisconsin News Photographers and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Founded in 1978, the WFOIC tracks legal and legislative developments that affect these areas, and works to educate the public on the importance of open government.
Visit the 2012 FOI Summit homepage for registration information and future updates to the schedule and program.