• spjmadison

SPJ open records, open meeting training

Nov. 7, 2012

A vital democracy requires government transparency and a vigilant press. To that end, the Wisconsin Open Records and Open Meetings laws provide avenues for the media and citizens to serve as watchdogs on government operations. To help you understand your rights under these laws in order to better inform your readers and viewers, the Madison pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is hosting a day-long training session on government transparency.

“Open Records, Open Meetings: Holding Government Accountable,” will be held Friday, Nov. 30 in Madison. The session, in the Capital Newspapers auditorium, 1901 Fish Hatchery Road, Madison, will begin at 10 am and conclude at 3:15 pm, with registration beginning at 9:30 am. It is free for SPJ members or for $30 for non-members

Lunch will be provided with the generous support of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Two complimentary registrations are available for WBA and WNA members on a first come, first served basis.

The SPJ Open Records, Open Meetings training lineup includes some of the state’s top experts in the field. The program is:

10:00 am: Welcome

10:10-11:15 am: Wisconsin’s Open Records Law: Everything you need to know about the law, including the elements of a properly written records request, tips on avoiding excessive costs and answers to your questions. With:

Bill Lueders, president, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council

Mary Burke, assistant attorney general, Wisconsin Department of Justice

11:15-12:15 pm: Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law: Everything you need to know about the law, including what constitutes a government body, grounds upon which a government body can close a meeting, your rights to videotape and record meetings and answers to your questions. With:

Christa Westerberg, lawyer, McGillivray, Westerberg and Bender, Madison

Bruce Olsen, assistant attorney general, Wisconsin Department of Justice

12:15-1:00 pm: Lunch/Networking

1:00-2:00 pm: Using the Open Records Law: What are the practical impacts for journalists and citizens using the records law? With:

Patrick Marley, State Capitol reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Dee J. Hall, State Capitol and investigative reporter, Wisconsin State Journal

2:00-3:00 pm: Custodians Respond: Receiving, reviewing and responding to records requests can be difficult and daunting. In understanding governments’ position on the records law, journalists will be better positioned to apply the law themselves. This diverse group of custodians – with representation from the local and state level — can also discuss open meetings. With:

Jennifer Sloan Lattis, senior system legal counsel, University of Wisconsin System

Bill Cosh, spokesman, state Department of Natural Resources

Jina Jonen, in-house counsel/human resources director, Oregon School District

3:00-3:15 pm: Final thoughts and wrap up

To register, SPJ members should contact Mark Pitsch, SPJ Madison chapter president, at mpitsch@madison.com or 608-252-6145. Journalists who are not SPJ members should register at http://www.eventbrite.com/event/4750186937.

Journalists can also join the Madison chapter of SPJ for $75 annually and attend the Open Records/Open Meetings training and future training opportunities for free. Go to http://www.spj.org/whyjoin.asp to become a member. College and high school journalists can apply to SPJ for complimentary registration. On-site registration may be available depending upon advance registrations.

Capital Newspapers does NOT have universal wireless access. Attendees may want to consider bringing a wireless air card or hot spot.

If you have questions, please contact Mark Pitsch at 608-252-6145.

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