National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame
The right to know about the actions of government is now an important part of America’s democratic heritage.
The legal basis of this right was established on July 4, 1966, when President Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act. In 1974, FOIA was strengthened with the passage of key amendments. A new measure, which would apply FOIA principles to electronic records, has been passed by House and Senate committees in the 104th Congress.
Journalists have used the act for more than three decades to generate thousands of news stories, including some of the most important exposés of our time. Using FOIA, journalists have held government accountable, exposed crime, and helped shape American public policy in major ways.
Many people inside the government, legislators as well as enlightened federal administrators, contributed to FOIA’s creation and implementation. Others, including presidents and some in Congress, have unsuccessfully sought to weaken FOIA. In part, it has been the vigilance of news organizations and journalists, supported by enlightened federal leaders, that has preserved the act.
A coalition of media organizations joined in 1996 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of FOIA. One goal is to develop a plan for expanding the rights of Americans to know about their government’s actions. Another is to recognize key individuals who have demonstrated strong leadership in connection with FOIA. These men and women have developed and defended federal legislation, ensuring the right of the American public to know about the actions of its government and helping journalists use the act in their work.
The following individuals are honored for their unique roles in helping to establish, defend and utilize the legal basis for the right to know. Following James Madison’s special tribute, they are listed in alphabetical order.
Class of 1996 — Charter members
Class of 2001
Class of 2006
Class of 2011