As readers in cities around the nation lament the cuts to their local newspaper, their primary source of accurate information and reflection, I am mourning the demise of a related organization, the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government. I got to know the CJOG through Sunshine Week activities, a project in which CJOG was a major force. The Coalition also provided a forum for collaboration and communication among the many journalism organizations that stand up for open government, particularly at the federal level.
The work of the CJOG will be picked up by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, headed by Minnesotan Lucy Dalglish, and by the National Freedom of Information Coalition; Sunshine in Government will also continue to post information on federal open government issues. These are good, reliable — but very busy — hands in which to leave an important function.
Needless to say, the reason for closing the virtual doors at CJOG is money. Long ago I learned that people/organizations will pay for goods first, then services, and almost never collaboration. There’s no tangible, visible product, just the payoff of shared responsibility, division of labor, and the powerful impact of collective wisdom. Sometimes those benefits get in the way of other agendas, e.g. obfuscation of facts and empire building.
Thanks to Peter Weitzel for his efforts on behalf of open government and for his continued involvement at the federal level.