The first-ever SPJ Detroit FOIA Festival will take place on Saturday Oct. 12 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Wayne State University’s Student Center.
The schedule for the festival is below, featuring journalists and other leaders from across metro Detroit and the state of Michigan.
9 – 9:10 a.m. – Welcome
Speakers: Beth Konrad, SPJ Detroit president, and Dr. Matthew Seeger, Dean, College of Fine, Performing & Communication Arts- Wayne State University
9:10 – 9:20 a.m. – Overview and the need for reform
Michigan is the only state that exempts its governor’s office and Legislature from FOIA requests and is ranked last by several watchdog groups for government transparency.
Speaker: Robin Luce Herrmann, head of Media Practice, Butzel Long, provides a status report on the FOIA in Michigan
9:30 – 10:30 a.m. Panel session – FOIA 101, a tool for the press and citizens
How do we utilize the existing FOIA and Open Meetings Act in Michigan? What you need to know about FOIA exclusions, fees, delays and loopholes. How is state government addressing this issue?
Moderator: Kelley Root – Managing Editor, The Detroit News
State Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield – Southern Oakland County
Kathy Barks Hoffman – SPJ Mid-Michigan Board/Martin Waymire VP
Mark Rochester – Senior News Editor-Investigations, Detroit Free Press
10:40 a.m. – Noon – Breakout Sessions (concurrently)
Session A: How citizens can use FOIA
A nuts and bolts discussion of FOIA and the Open Meetings Act designed for citizens and community organizations
Moderator: Vince Duffy – News Director, Michigan Public Radio
Jewel Gopwani – Senior Editor-Engagement, Detroit Free Press
Sarah Alvarez – CEO, Outliner Media
Session B: Student press and FOIA
Tip and tools for students on why the FOIA should be part of every journalism toolbox and how to file FOIA requests
Moderator: Alicia Nails – Director, Wayne State University Journalism Institute for Media Diversity
Joe Grimm – Editor in Residence, Michigan State University
Omar Abdel-Baqui – Managing Editor, The South End (WSU)
Miriam Marini – Editor in Chief, The South End (WSU)
Charlie Kadado – WSU Law School, former producer, WXYZ-TV
Session C: FOIA and data-based journalism
Learn how to find records hidden in plain sight. Pros offer insights on how to conduct data analysis of the private, public and nonprofit sectors
Moderator: Maxwell White – Digital Executive Producer, WXYZ-TV
Erica Raleigh – Executive Director, Data Driven Detroit
Kristi Tanner – Computer-assisted Reporting Coordinator, Detroit Free Press
Noon – 1:30 p.m. – Lunch and keynote address
Nessel, who took office on Jan. 1, 2019, has called for more government transparency while noting Michigan’s current FOIA restrictions.
Speaker: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel
Moderator: Katrease Stafford – Watchdog Reporter, Detroit Free Press
1:40 – 2:30 p.m. – FOIA Case Studies
Award-winning journalists describe how FOIA complemented their news gathering and the challenges they faced, such as delays and fees, faced in reporting their stories.
Moderator: Ro Coppola –Director of Digital and Enterprise Content, WDIV-TV
Ross Jones – Investigative Reporter, WXYZ-TV
Kim Kozlowski – Reporter, The Detroit News
Chad Livengood – Senior Reporter, Crain’s Detroit Business
Mike Wilkinson – Reporter, Bridge Magazine