The SEJ WatchDog Alert

The WatchDog Alert (formerly WatchDog TipSheet) is a regular source of story ideas, articles, updates, events and other information with a focus on freedom-of-information issues of concern to environmental journalists in both the United States and Canada.

WatchDog is compiled, edited and written by Joseph A. Davis, who directs the WatchDog Project, an activity of SEJ's Freedom of Information Task Force that reports on secrecy trends and supports reporters' efforts to make better use of FOIA.

Journalists can track WatchDog Alert items for free by subscribing to the SEJournal Online, the digital news magazine of the Society of Environmental Journalists, which will regularly highlight WatchDog Alert news. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here.

WatchDog Alert is also available through the searchable archive below and via RSS feed.

Topics on the Beat: 

Latest WatchDog Alert Items

April 13, 2016

March 30, 2016

  • The Project on Government Oversight FOIA'd FEMA/DHS in 2006 for documents that might reveal hanky-panky with billions of dollars in Hurricane Katrina recovery contracts. In December 2015, DHS finally wrote POGO to say that disclosing the records would constitute an "unwarranted invasion of privacy."

  • The Senate March 15, 2016, unanimously passed a bill (S 337) improving the 50-year-old Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). But the appearance of bipartisan consensus may belie a rocky road to final enactment in a highly politicized election year.

  • Tens of millions have been spent on lobbying and advertising by the mainstream food industry to defeat a series of state-by-state measures requiring food labels to disclose GMO content. Now, Vermont is poised to implement a GMO-labelling law.

  • If you are an environmental reporter, it is only a matter of time before a reader asks you, "What's up with pentachlorophenol?" Or a grouchy editor demands to know, "What's the difference between trichloroethylene and trichloroethane?" Help is on the way. Read on.

  • In 2011, EPA produced — and subsequently buried — a draft report on fracking contamination at Pavillion, Wyoming. Now one of the authors of the original draft has co-published a review of the research in the independent journal Environmental Science & Technology. The new study, based on FOIA'd documents, links fracking and polluted wells.

March 16, 2016

  • This special issue of SEJ's WatchDog celebrated "Sunshine Week," the national reminder that freedom of information and open government are essential for a working democracy. Lots of info is available for environmental reporters about pollutants and hazards that can harm people. Our Sunshine toolbox is ... well ... full of flashlights — environmental databases that can help you see things. Categories include chemicals, disasters, energy, health and pollution. Shine on!

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