Opening Up Open Government

By Horvit, Mark | Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The IRE Journal, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

Opening Up Open Government


Horvit, Mark, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The IRE Journal


I have some reservations about open government.

I realize that sounds nuts coming from the guy running IRE. But hear me out.

Last month I participated in the Media Access to Government Information Conference, hosted by the National Archives and sponsored by the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke University. It was a chance for journalists and government officials to get together and talk about issues surrounding open records.

I learned a great deal during the daylong meeting and met some government officials who are working to make data and documents more available to the public.

But I also heard a disheartening theme emerge from some speakers and audience members, who talked about a shift in emphasis from handling open records requests to the open government initiative.

No doubt, that effort is vitally important. If agencies at the federal or state levels voluntarily make data and documents publicly available, that benefits everyone.

But several times during the day, speakers or audience members came back to the idea that the open government initiative somehow lessens the importance of open records laws. FOIA has problems? No need to worry about that, because data is being made available for you without the need to ask for it. Repeatedly, the wonders of such "proactive release" were proclaimed.

Maybe that would be OK if open government initiatives really opened government. But as we've seen during the past couple of years, in too many cases that's not what happens.

The Obama administration launched with a promise of making government data more available. That has occurred in some important ways. But too often agencies make select databases - or only portions of those databases - publicly available. And oftentimes, the data can be interacted with only by using interfaces built by the government that don't include back key elements.

That's not open government. It's selective access, and the greatest problem is that the access is being selected by those who control the information.

Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, noted that while there have been many positive signs since Obama promised greater transparency, "something isn't quite right .

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Opening Up Open Government
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.