GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a conference Thursday and Friday providing various sessions educating, training, and advocating freedom of information.

The “Florida FOI Summit” allows journalists, media lawyers, government officials, scholars, students and the public to discuss current issues in freedom of information, look back at the contributions of key individuals to the development of FOI law and policy, and look forward to the future of FOI during a time of increased government secrecy and the war on terror.

“For the past 30 years, The Brechner Center has educated and trained journalists, lawyers, government officials, and the pubic on freedom of information,” said Sandra F. Chance, executive director. “The FOI Summit honors that mission and the legacy of its name sake, Joseph L. Brechner.”

The FOI Summit kicks off Thursday with a panel discussion featuring FOI advice from media lawyers, journalists and public officials. Thursday’s workshop will be followed by a keynote address from USA Today Editor Ken Paulson.

Sessions continue Friday with topics exploring FOI issues at the state, national, and global levels. Friday’s activities also include the induction of six honorees into the Florida Freedom of Information Hall of Fame and the presentation of the 22nd annual Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award.

“Given the government’s increased emphasis on secrecy, if we want to hold our public officials accountable for their decisions, we must protect the public’s right to know,” Chance said. “We hope the FOI Summit will serve to educate and inspire the public in the fight for freedom of information.”

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