Access to Public Records and the Role of the News Media in Providing Information About COVID-19   [open pdf - 0B]

From the Introduction: "The response to the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic has affected all facets of society in the United States, but especially the ways in which we work. Reporters and members of the news media have been confronted with special legal and practical challenges over the last months, from trying to determine whether they are 'essential' and therefore exempt from mandatory shelter-in-place orders, to covering court proceedings that have moved to phone or video conferencing. Moreover, some of the most crucial tools reporters use to gather information--public records and open meetings laws--have also seen significant and worrying disruptions. These laws, which serve as vital avenues for ensuring the free flow of information about what the government is doing, have suffered greatly during the course of the public health crisis. This article surveys and analyzes the impacts of the pandemic on public access to government records and meetings in the United States. As we show, many government entities have impaired key fixtures of transparency by weakening or suspending public records and open meetings laws, as well as their compliance with them, at a time when doing so stands both to threaten basic institutions of open government and exacerbate the public health crisis. We also focus on the special role of the news media in disseminating information about COVID-19, arguing that this function has important consequences for efforts to curb the spread of the disease, as well as for government accountability."

2020 Adam A. Marshall & Gunita Singh
Retrieved From:
Journal of National Security Law & Policy: http://jnslp.com/
Media Type:
Journal of National Security Law & Policy (2020), v.11 no.1
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