February 23, 2016

Wisconsin open government advocates hit the road to boost public’s understanding and use of open records laws

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism among supporters of eight-city tour

Residents across Wisconsin are invited to free events exploring the importance of open records laws, and how to use them to obtain critical information about the actions of government.

The eight-city “Open Government Traveling Show” by open government advocates comes in the wake of unprecedented attacks on open records laws from state lawmakers and others. The events will take place from Tuesday, March 15, through Thursday, March 17, as part of national Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of access to public information.

Each 90-minute presentation will feature a tutorial on the records law and examples of its use by journalists and advocates.

“An open society depends on open government. Wisconsin residents understand that,” says Mark Pitsch, president of the Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and an assistant city editor at the Wisconsin State Journal. “Last summer’s attempt to gut the records law is just one of several recent examples of official disregard for the public’s right to know. It’s time for education and vigilance.”

Participants will include representatives of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, the Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, the Center for Media and Democracy, the MacIver Institute for Public Policy and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The tour is also supported by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Each stop has its own local sponsor.

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is proud to support this effort to strengthen the public’s understanding and use of open records laws, which are essential to our democracy,” says Andy Hall, co-founder and executive director of the nonpartisan and nonprofit news organization housed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The traveling show will take place in the following locations:

La Crosse: March 15, 2 p.m. La Crosse Public Library. Local sponsor: La Crosse Tribune.

Eau Claire: March 15, 7 p.m. Centennial Hall, Room 1614, UW-Eau Claire. Local sponsor: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, UW-Eau Claire chapter, Society of Professional Journalists

Wausau: March 16, 10 a.m. Marathon County Public Library. Local sponsor: Wausau Daily Herald-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Green Bay: March 16, 2 p.m. Green Bay Public Library. Local Sponsor: Green Bay Press-Gazette-USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN

Appleton: March 16, 7:30 p.m. Appleton Public Library. Local sponsor: Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Sheboygan: March 17, 10 a.m. Sheboygan Public Library. Local sponsor: Sheboygan Press-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Waukesha: March 17, 2 p.m, Waukesha Public Library. Local sponsor: Schott, Bublitz and Engel S.C.

Janesville: March 17, 7 p.m. Blackhawk Technical College. Local sponsor: Janesville Gazette