Brechner News

Frank LoMonte Receives Washington, D.C. Pro SPJ Chapter’s 2022 Distinguished Service Award

Posted: June 23, 2022

Frank LoMonte, former University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, received the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter 2022 Distinguished Service in Local Journalism Award at the chapter’s 2022 Dateline Awards and Hall of Fame dinner on June 14. LoMonte, currently legal counsel at CNN, received the award in recognition of his tenure as executive director of the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), based in Washington, D.C., from 2008 to 2017. He led the Brechner Center from August 2017 until April 2022. At SPLC, LoMonte responded to requests for legal help from…

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Sara Ganim Featured in Podcasts on Sexual Assault Gag Orders and System Failures in Protecting Sexual Abuse Victims

Posted: June 13, 2022

Sara Ganim, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information Hearst Journalism Fellow and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is the host and producer of “’Gag Order’ Against Sexual Assault,” the latest episode of “What Don’t We Know” recorded at SXSW EDU in Austin and posted on June 2. In the latest episode, Ganim focuses on how universities are putting conditions on student accusers’ access to evidence after a sexual assault. The Brechner Center received information via public records requests revealing that students were required to sign an agreement explicitly stating that they can share evidence…

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2021-2022 Journal of Civic Information Law School Writing Competition Winners Announced

Posted: May 20, 2022

The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida announced today the winners of the 2021-2022 Journal of Civic Information Law School Writing Competition. The honors include $2,000 and $1,000 first and second place cash prizes, respectively, and the opportunity to publish in the Journal of Civic Information. First place was awarded to “Arizona’s Private Prisons and Their Vast Labor Pool,” by Alyssa M. Petroff, University of Massachusetts School of Law. The manuscript describes how privately run prisons in Arizona hide records regarding prisoner labor exploitation, including 40-hour work weeks at wages as low as 10 cents…

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Frank LoMonte Comments on the Non-Disclosure of NIL Payments to Student-Athletes

Posted: March 4, 2022

Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is quoted in “WRAL Investigates: Payments Now Legal to College Athletes, But They’re Still Hidden” posted on wral.com on Feb. 28. The article focuses on the ability of student-athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness (NIL). The amount they receive depends on their profile and position on their team. However, how much the student-athletes are making is not easy to determine. LoMonte questioned why NIL deals aren’t made public by schools. “College athletics has been in need of greater transparency and greater public…

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Entry Period for $3,000 Brechner Freedom of Information Award Now Open

Posted: February 9, 2022

Entries are now open for the 2022 Brechner Center for Freedom of Information Award, recognizing excellence in news reporting across all media platforms that was aired or published during 2021. The $3,000 cash award seeks to reward journalism published by a U.S.-based news organization, or collaborative of organizations, that advances the public’s right to know. The Award has been presented annually since 1986 by the Brechner Center at the University of Florida to reward excellence in reporting that draws on government documents and data, shedding light on official secrecy. The prize money is made possible by an endowment created by…

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Brechner Center Director Frank LoMonte Joins CNN as Legal Counsel

Posted: February 1, 2022

Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, joined CNN in Atlanta on Feb. 1 as a new counsel. He joined the Brechner Center as director in 2017 after serving for 10 years as executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Virginia. LoMonte is a tireless advocate for transparency at all levels of government and for the right for public employees to speak to the media, particularly during the pandemic. He also was very active in advocating for student First Amendment rights on and off campus, and for transparency in hiring…

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Frank LoMonte Comments on Public Records and Public Officials’ First Amendment Rights

Posted: January 21, 2022

Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is quoted in “In the Dark: Florida Lawmakers Creating New Ways to Keep Public Records Private” published in the Tallahassee Democrat on Jan. 20. The article addresses the cumulative effect of adding dozens of new exemptions to Florida’s open records law every year, and how fulfillment of records can grind to a halt if agencies need to review documents for more than 1,000 potentially exempt types of material. “The problem is that open records laws have support that’s broad, but shallow,” said LoMonte. “Exemptions have support…

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Frank LoMonte Co-Authors Article on Smartphone Security for Mobile Journalists

Posted: January 10, 2022

Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is the co-author of “Smartphone Security for the Mobile Journalist: Should Reporters Give Police the Finger?” published in the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 23, Issue 2. LoMonte and UF Levin College of Law student Philip Sliger focus on the constitutional arguments that a journalist, professional or amateur, can make in attempting to resist a police search of a smartphone. The article compares two popular security methods, biometric encryption or alphanumeric passcode, and analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of each method from a…

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Frank LoMonte Authors Article on Student Journalism and Civic Education

Posted: January 6, 2022

Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is the author of “Student Journalism and Civic Education” published in the American Bar Association’s Human Rights online magazine on Jan. 4. In the article, LoMonte focuses on the importance of offering high-quality journalism opportunities in K-12 school as part of a well-rounded civics education. According to LoMonte, “If you set out with a blank page to design a civics course meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century, here’s what it might look like: Students would be encouraged to examine and debate current events, focusing on…

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Frank LoMonte Comments on a Possible Philadelphia School District Gag Order Policy

Posted: November 10, 2021

Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is quoted in “The Philadelphia School District is Proposing a New Media Policy. It’s a ‘Gag Order,’ Said One Board Member” published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Nov. 8. The article focuses on a possible Philadelphia School District policy that would forbid any of its 20,000 employees from talking to the media unless staff from its central office signs off. According to LoMonte, “Such a policy would be an astonishingly unconstitutional thing to do. When you tell public employees that they are not free to speak…

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Frank LoMonte Comments on the Legality of Gag Order on Appointed State Judges

Posted: November 2, 2021

Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is quoted in “Magistrate Fired Over Comments to Times” published in the Alexandria (Virginia) Times on Oct. 21. In the article, Magistrate Elizabeth Fuller, who filed a complaint that led to the bondsman in a homicide case losing his license, has been fired for comments she made to the newspaper. Fuller was terminated for violating Canon 3, Article B6, which states that “a magistrate shall abstain from public comment about a pending, impending or concluded proceeding in any court or magistrate’s office.” According to LoMonte, “In…

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Frank LoMonte Comments on Oklahoma’s Antiracism Teaching Ban in Public Schools

Posted: October 25, 2021

Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is quoted in “ACLU Lawsuit Looks to Take Down Oklahoma’s CRT Teaching Ban as Free Speech Violation” published on the74million.org website on Oct. 25. The article focuses on an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s restriction of public school’s instruction on race and gender alleging it to be an antiracism teaching ban. According to LoMonte, “There is a pretty good chance that students can show their First Amendment rights have been violated. When schools restrict academic content, it can amount to a First Amendment violation…

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