ATLANTA – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV announce the donation of $80,000 to the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, Georgia’s leading nonprofit devoted to government transparency. The donation stems from the newsrooms’ efforts to address the City of Atlanta’s non-compliance of Georgia open records laws.
The money will allow the Georgia First Amendment Foundation (GFAF) to train citizens and journalists on obtaining access to public records from Atlanta and other government jurisdictions. It also will educate citizens on how to challenge agencies that thwart open records requests.
“This generous Cox Media Group gift will be a major boost for the foundation’s education efforts,” said Richard T. Griffiths, president of the GFAF. “We intend for the funds to be used to provide training in Atlanta and throughout the state for the public, journalists, and government officials. We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to understand the state’s open government and open records laws. Encouraging government transparency is one of the core missions of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation and this gift will enable us to greatly increase our efforts to help the public gain access to the records and information that belong to them.”
Reporters from the AJC and Chanel 2 Action News recognized a pattern of Atlanta’s non-compliance with open records laws under the administration of Mayor Kasim Reed. In April 2018, the AJC and Channel 2 took the unusual step to file a formal complaint with the Georgia attorney general, requesting mediation. The complaint cited examples of political interference with open records requests and examples of delay and failure to respond properly to records requests. As a result of the mediation, the city has passed a new ordinance to create transparency and open records compliance. A settlement agreement between the city, the AJC and WSB-TV to dismiss the complaint included the city’s agreement to pass, within 90 days, a new “first-in-class” public records policy with input from the newsrooms, and partial reimbursement of attorney fees. That reimbursement funds this donation.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the team at WSB-TV and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for its watchdog reporting on this incredibly important matter and proving, once again, that local journalism matters,” said Alex Taylor, President and CEO of Cox Enterprises. “The First Amendment and state laws such as the Georgia Open Records Act are essential to our democracy and freedom as citizens because they enable us to see how our government works. We support the Georgia First Amendment Foundation in its mission to hold our public officials accountable and demand transparency in government.”
A presentation will be made by at the First Amendment Foundation’s 2018 Weltner Award Banquet on Oct. 17.
About The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the leading source – both in print and online – of news, information and advertising for metropolitan Atlanta, reaching a total print and online audience of 1.6 million people each week. Every month, nearly 5.5 million unique visitors access the newspaper’s websites, including AJC.com, myAJC.com and accessAtlanta.com. Our newsroom is the largest in Georgia with nearly 150 journalists. We report on a metro area that has more than 5 million people and cover five core counties and more than 20 city governments. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is part of Cox Media Group, a publishing, digital media and broadcasting subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises.
About Cox Media Group
Cox Media Group (CMG) is an integrated broadcasting, publishing, direct marketing and digital media company. The company’s operations include broadcast television stations, radio stations, daily newspapers and non-daily publications. Additionally, Cox Media Group operates the National Advertising Platform businesses of CoxReps, Gamut and Videa; and offers a full suite of local and regional advertising services through its Local Solutions and Ideabar businesses. For more information about Cox Media Group, please visit www.coxmediagroup.com.