National FOI Day looks at secrecy, whistleblowing, more

Friday, March 16, 2012

WASHINGTON — The 14th annual National Freedom of Information Day Conference will be held Friday, March 16 — James Madison’s birth date — at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.

Hosted each year by the First Amendment Center, the conference is conducted in partnership with the American Library Association, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, OMB Watch, and the National Security Archive at George Washington University. The event also is part of the annual Sunshine Week initiative sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee.

The conference runs from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. There is no charge to attend, but attendees are encouraged to guarantee seating in advance. To register for the 2012 conference, e-mail or telephone Ashlie Hampton of the First Amendment Center at or 202/292-6288. When registering, please provide your name, title, affiliation and contact information for agenda updates and other news.

Speakers will include:

  • Robert O’Neil, former director, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression
  • John Palfrey, vice dean, library and information resources, Harvard Law School, and co-director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society
  • Ken Paulson, ASNE president, and president, First Amendment Center

The conference again will include the announcement by the American Library Association of its annual James Madison Award recipient. The ALA presents the Madison award to individuals or groups that have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know.

This year, in afternoon sessions, will present its 7th annual Sunshine Week event. Two panel programs are planned.

The conference uniquely brings together groups from all areas concerned with freedom of information and open records: FOI advocates, government officials, judges, lawyers, librarians, journalists, educators and others.

The National Freedom of Information Day program, held annually on the birth date of James Madison — considered the father of the First Amendment — also features the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame, honoring those who have made significant contributions to protecting and expanding access to government information. The Hall was created in 1996 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the federal Freedom of Information Act. Members are inducted every five years; the most recent group of honorees was named in 2011.

The First Amendment Center supports the First Amendment and builds understanding of its core freedoms through education, information and entertainment. The center is nonpartisan and does not lobby or litigate.

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Press contact:
Ashlie Hampton

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