E-Net News

Elon co-produces DVD on public information challenges

Following the 2001 terror attacks and a push for security of government information, constitutional protection for published works grew exponentially, making access to records, including traditionally public documents, more difficult for journalists. "Access Denied," a new DVD co-produced by the Elon University Program for Documentary Production, chronicles that trend and offers additional tips and resources for reporters.

"Access Denied" offers resources for journalists who face hurdles in obtaining public information.

Elon University associate professor Brooke Barnett, in conjunction with Fred Cate, a distinguished professor in the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, worked together on the program.

“The idea for this DVD came from conversations that Fred and I had about the contested areas of law,” said Barnett, executive producer of “Access Denied.” “Newsgathering seemed to be the new battlefield for journalists who have won victories in terms of what they can publish. Those victories are not that significant if they cannot get the information to publish in the first place.”

“Access Denied” includes a panel of leading journalists that look into the challenges journalists face in collecting information as well as the legal issues involved. The panel consists of reporters, editors, professors and vice presidents, including David Cullier, Stephen Key, Jane E. Kirtley, Toni Locy and Dennis R. Ryerson.

“As the Internet and other digital technologies are making information easier to collect and share, many are finding that getting access to the information they need be a critically examine significant issues is getting harder,” Barnett said. “This is true with public-sector data, and with information held by companies and other private-sector organizations.”

Barnett cited the Supreme Court case, Branzburg v. Hayes, which ruled “without some protection for seeking out the news, freedom of the press could be eviscerated.” There was also an acknowledgement that journalists do not possess constitutional rights to access information.

Elon University communications professor Ken Calhoun directed the art. Barnett and Calhoun were able to produce the DVD after receiving a grant from the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at Elon. The DVD can be ordered by contacting Brooke Barnett at bbarnett@elon.edu.

There is no charge.

- Written by Sarah Costello '11

Eric Townsend,
5/27/2010 9:15 AM