From the Bluegrass Chapter of SPJ
The recently completed session of the General Assembly threw several scares into journalists and other advocates of open government. The legislature made itself and just about every other part of government in Kentucky less transparent, and it could have been a lot worse. We won some battles, but more are ahead – both in the legislature and with public officials and employees who treat public records as if they were their private possessions.
To help journalists deal with those issues in their work, and help boost efforts to defend open government, the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will present “Open Government: Where is Kentucky headed?,” a Zoom panel discussion with questions and answers, at 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday, June 17. The panelists will be:
Michael Abate, Louisville, counsel for the Kentucky Press Association and partner, Kaplan Johnson Abate & Bird
Sharon Burton, Columbia, KPA president and editor-publisher of The Farmer’s Pride and the Adair County Community Voice
Jennifer P. Brown, Hopkinsville, editor-publisher of Hoptown Chronicle and co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition
Tom Eblen, president of the chapter and retired columnist and managing editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader, will be the moderator.
Some questions likely to be addressed by the panel are:
- What are the most significant changes House Bill 312 made in the Open Records Act when it comes to reporting on government in Kentucky?
- Should we expect more efforts by legislators to criminalize of restrict coverage of certain government officials or employees? How close did such legislation come to passing?
- Did any other bills passed by the General Assembly help or hurt the cause of open government?
- Beyond those bills, did the session have other examples of lack of transparency in the legislative process? If so, what seemed to be the motive(s)? How much can be attributed to the pandemic?
- Beyond the legislature, have you noticed reduced transparency and openness in other agencies of state and local government? If so, what factors are driving this, and what can be done about it?
- How would you rate Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s performance on open-government opinions and related matters? What pleases or bothers you?
The meeting is open to all journalists. Join us via Zoom: https://uky.zoom.us/j/4775700085 (Meeting ID: 477 570 0085)