Apr. 28, 2008  

Chamberlin wins FOI Award from SPJ, NFOIC

Before there was a national freedom of information movement, there was Bill F. Chamberlin’s work on FOI issues. Before the National Freedom of Information Coalition was even an idea, let alone a real entity, Chamberlin was laying the groundwork for an academic program at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communication that would arm scholars with the tools needed to ask fundamental questions about access.

Bill F. Chamberlin, Joseph L. Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication at the University of Florida and Director of the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project, has been selected by the National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists for their joint “Heroes of the 50 States: The Open Government Hall of Fame” award for 2008.

Chamberlin served as the founding director of both the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information and the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project at the University of Florida. His advisees are among the most recognized scholars focusing on access issues in the country.

“The freedom of information movement nationally is in Professor Chamberlin’s debt,” said Charles N. Davis, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and one of Professor Chamberlin’s many doctoral advisees. “I know I owe my career to him.”

The Brechner Center continues its fine work today, sending generations of UF students into the fields of journalism and law armed with a deep understanding of the importance of access to governmental information. The Center serves as a focal point for media law issues throughout the Sunshine State and the nation, and as a hotbed of research on FOI.

“Professor Chamberlin’s scholarship, teaching, and advocacy in the realm of freedom of information have had an enormous impact both within academe and in the public sphere,” said Matthew D. Bunker, Reese Phifer Professor of Journalism at the University of Alabama and a Chamberlin advisee. “His devotion to the cause of open government has inspired countless legal scholars, journalists and media lawyers.”

The State Open Government Hall of Fame is open to anyone who has made a substantial, sustained and lasting contribution to open government or freedom of information within one particular state. Nominees may come from government, the media, the non-profit sector, the legal profession, or any other area of endeavor that involves citizen access to government records, meetings and procedures.

Each spring, a new member is inducted into the Hall of Fame. The presentation will be made at this year’s FOI Summit in Philadelphia on May 10. More information about the summit and the award can be accessed at http://nfoic.org/.

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