ZACHARY: First Amendment Foundation Benefits Georgia |  Ga Fl News

The Georgia First Amendment Foundation protects your right to information, defends your First Amendment rights, protects free speech, and champions government transparency.

GFAF is non-partisan.

The work she does benefits all people in Georgia, regardless of party affiliation or ideology.

The Foundation is not a media organization or law firm, although its leadership includes numerous First Amendment lawyers and journalists.

GFAF is a grassroots organization that deserves broad support for its work for the benefit of the people of Georgia.

The foundation has highlighted some of their work over the past few years, including:

— Supporting a reporter’s fight to open local government meetings to the public.

— Educating the public and elected officials on how to ensure public gatherings remain open during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

– Call for more transparency regarding public health data on COVID-19.

– Call for more transparency in law enforcement operations.

— Encouraging police departments across Georgia to adopt civil rights-to-record policies.

– Working with other non-profit organizations to develop transparency training for Georgia police officers.

– Advocate for better public access to trials before the Georgia State Commercial Court.

– Partnered with other First Amendment proponents to provide resources for journalists covering protests.

— Creation of a guide for journalists working during the pandemic restrictions.

– Released an updated, user-friendly Citizen’s Guide to Sunshine Laws in Georgia.

– He took the lead and asked the Attorney General of Georgia to investigate the city of Atlanta for violations of the Sunshine Law, leading to the first prosecution under Georgia’s Open Records Act.

– Advocate in court for the protection of freedom of expression in Georgia; expand public access to information about private entities that perform government functions and protect this expanded access; strengthening the right of citizens to record in public spaces; and empower government agencies to release public information otherwise exempt under the state’s Open Records Act.

– Educating legislators and citizens about the dangers of transparency-reducing proposals, such as creating a state-backed body to investigate and monitor the media and requiring all parties to agree to records.

– Worked with First Amendment advocates and media organizations across the state to bring about a significant expansion of freedom of speech through the legislature – the largest legislative advance in this area in two decades.

– Protest against the detention of journalists covering topics of public interest.

– Pushing for increased penalties for government bodies that fail to provide access to public meetings, proceedings and records, as required by Georgian law.

— Drafting of investigative letters to allow Georgian citizens and journalists access to government meetings, court proceedings and public records.

— Conducted in-person and virtual workshops to educate citizens, civil servants, law enforcement officials and journalists on freedom of expression and the Sunshine Laws in Georgia.

Anyone can join the foundation. You can also get your own copies of the GFAF Guide to Open Government, the Guide to Court Access in Georgia, and the Guide to Law Enforcement Transparency. Learn more at Information is power, and the Georgia First Amendment Foundation has a lot of important information to share.

Jim Zachary is Editor of the Valdosta Daily Times, CNHI Director of Newsroom Training and Development, and President Emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.