SPJ Rio Grande Chapter Announces Fund to Help Assist Members With IPRA/FOIA Expenses

Reporting budgets are tight. Newsrooms and freelancers don’t always have money for public records requests. The Society of Professional Journalists has got your back. Thanks to a grant from the Thornburg Foundation, the Rio Grande Chapter of SPJ has a fund to help SPJ members in New Mexico and El Paso face down daunting record-request fees. It’s good through the end of 2017.

Interstate Stream Commission Receives “Black Hole” Distinction From SPJ

The Society of Professional Journalists chose the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission for the 2016 Black Hole Award. The award draws attention to “government institutions or agencies for outright contempt of the public’s right to know.” SPJ Rio Grande board president Laura Paskus nominated the ISC this year:
I’ve been a journalist for almost 15 years and have been covering this particular agency for that entire time. Over the past few years however, the agency has become increasingly secretive, in particular as the state has proposed building a controversial diversion on the Gila River, here in New Mexico. Most recently, the agency refused to release an unlocked version of a spreadsheet to a citizen … and it took a US senator reading my story to get the citizen the records.

GRAY SKIES: WHEN EFFORTS TO ENGAGE WITH STATE AGENCIES FAIL  

By: Laura Paskus

Earlier this year, I was trying to get a hold of some information — something really simple, the kind of thing that in the past would usually be handled over the course of a phone call or two. I was trying to figure out why a local government official had been told by the state that the village’s grant had been cut. I reached out to the state agency’s communications director, via text, voicemail and email. No one would respond, however. It wasn’t even a controversial story — the village ended up receiving the money they’d been counting on.