Sunshine Week brings focus to public record lawsuits


Public records and freedom of information laws are fundamental for government transparency. But when journalists fight for access to wrongfully withheld records at the state and local level, the public is paying the price, according to a new article published by our U.S. Press Freedom Tracker for Sunshine Week.

The Tracker’s senior reporter, Stephanie Sugars, found that over the past year alone, local governments have paid journalists more than $1.6 million in attorneys fees — all of which was financed by taxpayers — following public records lawsuits.

The bulk of these payments were made to newsrooms in California, Iowa, Massachusetts and Nevada after journalists were denied access to records ranging from police misconduct investigations to mayoral communications.

Read more from the Freedom of the Press Foundation