The faculty of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University stands with the editorial efforts of The Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and GateHouse Media Massachusetts in calling for major reforms to the Massachusetts public records law (“With public records law in tatters, it’s time for reform,” March 15).
As journalism educators, we were dismayed to learn recently that the state’s already-weak law has been weakened still further through rulings issued by Secretary of State William Galvin’s office. We find it astonishing that police departments can now withhold the names of officers charged with serious crimes such as drunken driving.
Reform is long overdue. Journalists and citizens seeking public information are hampered by government agencies that respond slowly and incompletely, if at all, to their requests. Outrageously high fees for information and the lack of meaningful enforcement provisions add to the difficulties of obtaining documents.
The Massachusetts Freedom of Information Alliance is calling for immediate action. It would be fitting if the Legislature and governor could agree on needed reforms this week, Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of open government. We support the alliance in its work to ensure that the public’s right to know will be protected.
Kennedy is also an associate professor at the School of Journalism. This letter was cosigned by 17 other members of the school’s faculty.