Good news for political bloggers and other practitioners of non-mainstream media.
The Freedom of Information Act has been expanded. Apparently, it means that uncredentialed folks will have an easier time learning what the dadblasted government has been up to.
The expansion gives agencies just 20 days to comply with information requests. If thereâ€™s foot-dragging, weâ€™ll be able to point to this law and say, â€œHey, itâ€™s been 20 days! Whereâ€™s that info I requested, Mr. Stonewalling Bureaucrat?â€
It also broadens the definition of who is a representative of the news media. The new definition is â€œany person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.â€
One reason this is important is that members of the â€œofficialâ€ news media typically get waivers of certain fees associated with these requests. Until now, bloggers and other non-traditional journalists couldnâ€™t get the same waiver.
How the new law plays out remains to be seen. But anything that helps put the amateur citizen journalist on the same legal footing as the New York Times sounds like good news to me. It helps us do what weâ€™ve gotta do to change our country for the better â€” that is, it helps us compete with a journalistic establishment that too often plays yes-man to the political establishment.
This is Common Sense. Iâ€™m Paul Jacob.