In May 2004, Tom Curley, president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press, delivered the 38th Annual Hays Press-Enterprise Lecture in Riverside, California. His address was entitled “Why Access is Good for Security.” An excerpt from his lecture is printed here.
“State FOI audits … have been very effective tools for testing official compliance with state FOI laws and raising public awareness of their rights. … Starting now, AP bureaus in any state where such audits have not been conducted will be instructed to make phone calls and start a project immediately. And AP will press in every state for regular audits at least once every five years. Bureau chiefs also will be directed to provide a status report on access for still and video cameras to state and federal courtrooms in their territories. Where there is no active effort under way to expand access, or the effort has faltered, chiefs will be asked to develop a plan to move things forward. AP bureau chiefs will be directed to review procedures for responding when access to information proceedings is blocked. We will help them spread the word, speed the process and decide when to hire counsel and seek allies among other media, and fight back. We will issue fresh instructions to AP editors at every level to be sure any news story that benefits from an FOI request or suffers from lack of public information that was refused by a government source says so clearly. There is a lot more we can do, especially if we work together.”