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FOIA and FOIL Insight and Guidance During COVID-19 and Beyond – A Two-Part Panel Discussion
March 23, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Moderated by Jeanmarie Evelly, Executive Editor at City Limits
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
6:00 – 6:50 ET — p.m.
With COVID, it is becoming increasingly difficult to access records, information and meetings. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has been tracking government responses to the pandemic and their effects on newsgathering efforts in New Y ork City and across the nation, including restrictions on court access and open meetings. Gunita Singh, Legal Fellow at RCFP, will share best practices on how journalists can overcome agency excuses and obtain public records during the pandemic and beyond. She’ll be joined by Al-Amyn Sumar, Counsel at The New York Times, who will share how the Times uses FOIA to unlock documents on topics ranging from gun control to the use of tasers by law enforcement to foreign-lobbyist records. We’ll then answer your questions on how to file FOIA requests and understand your rights under the law.
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. ET
In this hour, we’ll home much closer in on the use of FOIL in New York. We’ll hear how local journalists are using these laws to find stories and hold government accountable. Their successes range from the New York Post exposing the downplaying of lead-poisoning issues in NYCHA housing, to THE CITY obtaining more than 250 civilian reports alleging police abuses, to Streetsblog NYC uncovering how the MTA did not seriously consider an inexpensive proposal to build a bike and pedestrian path on the Verrazzano Bridge, to WNYC identifying dozens of high-profile cultural institutions that refused to serve as election poll sites despite taking millions in public tax benefits. We’ll also learn from unsuccessful FOIL requests and take your questions for our panelists.
Brigid Bergin, WNYC, City Hall and Politics Reporter
Josefa Velazquez, THE CITY, State Capitol Reporter
Nolan Hicks, New York Post, City Agencies and Politics Reporter
Gersh Kuntzman, Streetsblog NYC, Editor-in-Chief