Gaining access to public records is getting harder and harder. The government is withholding information that we have a right to. It is even making it difficult for journalists to get and share the information with the public. The Freedom of Information Act gives Americans the right to request information from the government; however the government has not been compliant in honoring such requests.
The national archives and Records Administration is set up so that you can see past records and view them in a public eye. But only certain records are available. Public records seem readily available but all in all they could be very hard to get to. Most Americans want to know what their tax dollar money is being spent on. Citizens should have the right to know everything the government does even if it’s good. The government spends millions of dollars on what? Nobody knows the real answer.
Gary Pruitt “Public Access to Government Records Faces Roadblocks Aplenty” March 17, 2015 www.mediachannel.org/publics-access-to-government-records-faces-roadblocks-aplenty/
Michael Felberbaum “Big fees to view public documents discourage public access” March 13,2015
Student Researcher: Alexandria Beckman, Indian River State College
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College
Ever wonder what the news or media isn’t really telling us? As citizens of this country we should have the right to know what is going on. Is the government really protecting us by withholding information? The article talks about the challenges of getting information in public records. Which brings about this question: “What is the government hiding from us?” By not granting access to public records, it is violating the rights of the U.S citizens. Journalists and media try to gain access to the unknown information that the government is withholding but they are fed only what the government wants them to hear. Some states have raised the price of public records to discourage people from getting ahold of them.
Our government isn’t forthcoming with knowledge of controversial topics, whereas being on the same page as the government could be beneficial. Keeping citizens informed could help this country in the long run by allowing citizens to express their informed judgments. Also it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to get the information from the government. Requesting files can be a painstakingly long process and all requests seem to not be answered until after months or years later, after the subject of the topic is almost forgotten.
To access information, some organizations are charged thousands of dollars just to see find the truth. When people have no idea about what’s going on in our country it is because information is being withheld from the public, either through not having access to it, or the media can’t cover such knowledge. If the media cannot cover the information requested it is at least sometimes because they cannot get the information from the government needed to accurately cover a story.
Government feeds us generally accepted knowledge to prevent conflict so citizens are cooperative. But are we satisfied with the information given to us? The authorities have been keeping information from the public for decades. Not much has changed even here in Florida when the Sunshine Law came about in 1966. For example, in one Florida case, the Broward county Sheriff’s Department charged $399,000 to get emails that contained bad words for gays. Also the process to receive the emails took four years. Given how long it takes to obtain the information, the story can be rendered old and irrelevant. This is just one case; however imagine that most authorities do things like this to prolong the requests or find files in order to prevent conflict.
The government is taking our rights away as citizens to see the truth about what they are doing behind the scenes. This leaves our country vulnerable and the people skeptical of government. Instead, it should be up to the citizens to decide if they want to know about something or not. With the government controlling what we, as citizens, see or hear, we are led to believe in what it wants us to believe. We are treated like objects manipulated, not as persons who have their own minds.
Our title as United States citizens should have more meaning to the government. The word “united” has great importance. To unite is to bring together and join as one. But if we are separated into citizens versus the government, then maybe we aren’t so united after all.