A Better Region 8: Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act

A Better Region 8: Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act

"The more that government becomes secret, the less it remains free." That's a quote from James Wiggins in 1956 when he was an editor for the Washington Post.  Back then, he fought for public access to secret government records on the local, state and federal level.

There are thousands of records—many you don't even know about--that you can see.

In Arkansas, we have something called the Freedom of Information Act, passed in 1967 and signed by Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.  It is one of the most comprehensive in the country and it provides you, me, and all other Arkansans access to information.

All state organizations, government agencies and employees, state universities and, basically, any information that is generated with our tax dollars fall under the Arkansas law.

That means all records in all mediums are open and accessible with very few restrictions. When asked, the individual or agency has three days to produce the requested records unless they are part of an active law enforcement investigation.

The Freedom of Information Act or "FOIA" law has exposed hundreds of stories over the years, but the main result is that we the people can see what is happening with government employees and institutions.

Here's the thing to remember: Region 8 News, as a journalistic organization, has a mission of holding those in power accountable.  We work hard, as do other true journalistic entities, to make sure that our government employees and organizations don't work in the cover of darkness and anonymity. The job of the journalist is to shine a light on what happens with our tax dollars and to make sure no information is withheld.

I applaud Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge for upholding and protecting this law.  Know that we will use it responsibly in our efforts to make this a better-informed Region 8.

- Chris Conroy, KAIT VP & General Manager

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