2012 FOI Summit Introduction

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COLUMBIA, MO — Gene Policinski, senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, has been chosen to deliver the keynote address at the 2012 FOI Summit May 11 and 12 in Madison, WI, NFOIC announced.

The annual FOI Summit, a national conference held in collaboration with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), will be held at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club in downtown Madison. NFOIC is partnering with the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council (WFOIC) in hosting this year’s Summit.

"The program is shaping up and we are excited to have Gene to headline a distinguished array of speakers and presenters," said Kenneth F. Bunting, executive director of NFOIC.

Policinski has worked as a journalist in newspapers, radio, television and online operations. He co-authors a weekly syndicated newspaper column, Inside the First Amendment. He was among the founding editors of USA Today, where he held various news executive positions.

More about Gene Policinski is available here.

The list of confirmed speakers and presenters for the Summit include civic and government leaders, as well as experts on open government issues and the First Amendment.

In addition to Policinski, other speakers and presenters include:

•  Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press;
•  Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy;
•  Amy Bennett, assistant director of OpentheGovernment.org;
•  Mickey H. Osterreicher, Counsel to Hiscock & Barclay, LLP, and general counsel for NPPA;
•  Matt DeCample, press secretary and communications director for Gov. Mike Beebe (D-AR);
•  Mark Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reporters & Editors;
•  Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Planned panel and program topics include fighting FOI erosion at the state and federal level, transparency in the post-Citizens United world, the impact and issues surrounding instant digital photography as a source of public information, and the troubling practice on the part of some state governors to keep their schedules hidden from citizens and journalists alike.

Saturday's keynote luncheon will also feature the induction of a worthy individual into the State Open Government Hall of Fame, a tradition NFOIC launched in collaboration with the Society of Professional Journalists in 2003, developed by leaders in both organizations as a way to recognize long-term contributions of individuals to open government in their respective states.

"The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is proud to host this important event, at what feels like a critical juncture for open government in Wisconsin and throughout the nation," said Bill Lueders, president of WFOIC. "The lineup of speakers and panels is outstanding and will surely inspire a vital renewal of commitment to our cause."

The Summit shines a light on the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and offers an opportunity for NFOIC members and others to get a clear view of disclosure and access laws, state by state. The conference brings together access advocates from all over the country to highlight recent successes and share ideas for combating secrecy in the future.

The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is a statewide nonprofit and nonpartisan group devoted to protecting public access to meetings and records. Founded in 1978, the WFOIC tracks legal and legislative developments that affect these areas, and works to educate the public on the importance of open government.

A nonpartisan alliance of citizen-driven nonprofit freedom of information organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys, NFOIC traces its origins to national assemblies that state freedom of information (FOI) advocates held in Dallas in 1989 and 1991.

Past years have seen FOI Summits in Arlington, VA (2010), Minneapolis, MN (2009), Philadelphia, PA (2008), Seattle, WA (2007), and Indianapolis, IN (2006). Last year’s Summit was held in Providence, RI.


Online registration is available here.

For questions, contact:

  • Bill Lueders
  • President, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council
  • 1901 Fish Hatchery Rd.
  • Madison, WI 53703
  • Phone 608.669.4712
  • Email blueders@wisconsinwatch.org


  • Ken Bunting
  • Executive Director, NFOIC
  • Missouri School of Journalism
  • 101E Reynolds Journalism Institute
  • Columbia, MO 65211
  • Phone 573.882.3075
  • Email buntingk@missouri.edu