Journalism Instructor Leading Online Freedom of Information Event

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media will co-sponsor a Zoom event Tuesday (June 23) that explores open meetings, public records and what the public is entitled to know about COVID-19.

Ellen Meacham, adjunct instructor of journalism, will lead the 11 a.m. event, which is open to the public. It features Leonard Van Slyke, a longtime media law attorney who mans the hotline for the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information.

Tune into the Zoom meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday by clicking this link.

“Although this is designed with journalists in mind, public records and public meetings laws are for all members of the public, so anyone can attend,” said Meacham, who will take questions from the audience.

The event is also sponsored by the Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation, the Mississippi Broadcaster’s Association and the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

“We will talk about some of the most common questions Mr. Van Slyke gets on the Freedom of Information hotline,” she said. “We will especially focus on what should be available for reporters and other member of the public relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will talk about what issues must be talked about in open meetings and when a government board can and cannot go behind closed doors. We’ll talk about what information should be available and how to get information about law enforcement, too.”

Meacham said she hopes those who attend the online event realize that the work that public officials do is paid for by the taxpayers and belongs to them.

“Of course there are a few exceptions, but, in general, the public’s business should be done in public, and residents and the reporters who represent them are on solid ground when they seek that information,” she said. “I hope people who attend this will learn what they can get and what options they have if they run into obstacles.”