Newspapers, Broadcasters, FOI Council All Question Newtown FOI Disclosure Bill

by Categorized: Brendan Sharkey, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Gun control, Hartford, Sandy Hook Date:

A coalition of news and freedom-of-information organizations wrote a letter Wednesday to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, raising concerns about shutting off information to the public concerning crime-scene photos and police audio tapes following the Newtown massacre.

“We understand the process of gathering information may have the unfortunate and unintended effect of reminding families and friends of the Sandy Hook victims of their terrible loss,\’\’ the letter said. \”All agree that every reasonable step should be taken to minimize such painful reminders, while not depriving our local, state and federal governments – and the people in general – of information needed to assess the tragedy and develop appropriate legislative responses.\’\’

House and Senate leaders, as well as Chief State\’s Attorney Kevin Kane, were sent copies of the letter from Michael Schroeder, president of the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association, Michael Ryan, president of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association, and Jim Smith, president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information.

They urged Malloy administration and lawmakers to avoid “a response that would restrict public access to information about what happened at Sandy Hook, or other crimes, regardless of scope, moving forward.” They added: “While many tragic events have made us question whether the disclosure of information is always in the best interest of a society, history has demonstrated repeatedly that governments must favor disclosure. Only an informed society can make informed judgments on issues of great moment.”

The following is the letter:

May 22, 2013
The Honorable Governor Dannel P. Malloy
Office of the Governor
State Capitol Building
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Dear Governor Malloy,
The undersigned here believe the tragedy that befell Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012 is one of the saddest days in this nation\’s rich history. The senseless murder of 27 innocent people, 20 of whom were children, is an unspeakable act of horror that will forever scar the hearts of our state and our nation.
In the wake of this tragedy, we are all seeking information that will help us understand how and why it occurred, so that we can take steps to ensure that such a tragedy never occurs again. We understand the process of gathering information may have the unfortunate and unintended effect of reminding families and friends of the Sandy Hook victims of their terrible loss. All agree that every reasonable step should be taken to minimize such painful reminders, while not depriving our local, state and federal governments – and the people in general – of information needed to assess the tragedy and develop appropriate legislative responses.
It\’s with this in mind that we, the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association (CDNA), the Connecticut Broadcasters Association (CBA), and the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information (CCFOI) caution the Administration and the Legislature on a response that would restrict public access to information about what happened at Sandy Hook, or other crimes, regardless of scope, moving forward.
While many tragic events have made us question whether the disclosure of information is always in the best interest of a society, history has demonstrated repeatedly that governments must favor disclosure. Only an informed society can make informed judgments on issues of great moment.
We believe, as the American Society of Newspaper Editors Ethics Code states, \”…that journalists should respect the rights of people involved in the news, observe the common standards of decency and stand accountable to the public for the fairness and accuracy of news reports…the primary purpose of gathering and distributing news and opinion is to serve the general welfare by informing the people and enabling them to make judgments on the issues of the time.\”
Knowing this, we for the benefit of open government and a free press, caution the government of the Great State of Connecticut as it deliberates changes to the Freedom of Information Act in response to the tragedy of Newtown. We maintain that public access to investigative reports, 9-1-1 Emergency Call transcripts and recordings, death certificates, and the like, serve the public\’s best interest by permitting the public to monitor the performance of its government. It was in this spirit that the First Amendment itself was adopted.
We look forward to discussing this issue with you as the Session comes to a close, and wish you the best in your delineation\’s on these very important matters.

Sincerely,
Michael Schroeder
President
Connecticut Daily Newspaper\’s Association
Michael Ryan
President
Connecticut Broadcasters Association
Jim Smith
President
Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
CC: The Honorable Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams
The Honorable Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey
The Honorable Senate Minority Leader John McKinney
The Honorable House Minority Leader Larry Cafero
Chief State Attorney Kevin Kane

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9 thoughts on “Newspapers, Broadcasters, FOI Council All Question Newtown FOI Disclosure Bill

  1. Mitch

    Hopefully someone will read it to Malloy and explain what it is all about. Doubtful he could handle the task on his own.

  2. MikeSteven

    While I understand the concern not to release information to protect the families impacted by this tragic event, I also feel we need to release ALL information because this event has a much larger impact. It was because of this tragic event, a new gun restriction was put in place in this state and new attempts to push it at the federal level has also happened. Thankfully they failed but none the less. So because of its broader reach and impact, I think all information pertaining to this event needs to be release to the public.

  3. bill

    I believe that this disclosure bill is a good remedy for the families. They should decide whether to release. I sense that the photos will eventually be released by consensus. but on their timing and choosing.

    1. johngaltwhereru

      B.S.

      There is no situation where the families should get to choose when the news is disseminated.

      This effected the entire country, and will likely have effects long after these families are dead. When they opted to publicly advocate for legislation, their right to privacy regarding this matter ended.

  4. The Conn-servative

    Just another stone being chipped away at.But in a way I don’t care. You leftist regressives didn’t care about things that Constitutionally affected me,why should I care when it’s your issue that affects what you believe in? The great dividers you are.

  5. swansong

    “We understand the process of gathering information may have the unfortunate and unintended effect of reminding families and friends of the Sandy Hook victims of their terrible loss,”

    I realize you’re trying to be understanding and sympathetic but the truth is these people remind themselves of their loss everytime they appear to speak about gun control.

    1. Kim

      exactly right, swansong. If they’re so ‘sensitive’ over this issue why are they running around the country reliving the memory and attacking our basic right to self-defense? If they were really interested in making an impact, wouldn’t the information be considered vital to that goal?

  6. johngaltwhereru

    I don’t see the big deal here.

    Obviously, Government is an omnipotent, loving, honest, unbiased force for good which does nothing except act in the best interest of all citizens.

    If the Government says something is not news, than you don’t need to know about it, because it is not news. Government is perfectly capable of determining what you need to know.

Comments are closed.