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Open government advocate, veteran journalist to speak on FOI, sunshine laws

The executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government (TCOG) will visit Austin Peay State University later this month to speak about the importance of sunshine laws.

Frank Gibson, a veteran journalist who worked 40 years as a reporter and editor at The Tennessean, Nashville, will present Argument for Open Government: Why Should You Care? at 4 p.m., Thursday, March 27 in the Morgan University Center, Room 305.

The talk, sponsored by APSU Student Publications, a part of the division of Student Affairs, is free and open to the public.
The executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government (TCOG) will visit Austin Peay State University later this month to speak about the importance of sunshine laws.

Frank Gibson, a veteran journalist who worked 40 years as a reporter and editor at The Tennessean, Nashville, will present “Argument for Open Government: Why Should You Care?” at 4 p.m., Thursday, March 27 in the Morgan University Center, Room 305.

The talk, sponsored by APSU Student Publications, a part of the division of Student Affairs, is free and open to the public.

In 2004, Gibson organized the state's first public records audit that surveyed public access to information in city and county offices in all 95 counties. The audit led to a four-part “Your Right to Know” series distributed by The Associated Press to every newspaper and broadcast outlet in the state.

Also, in 2005, he authored a study of open meetings violations, which showed a 45 percent increase in complaints published between 2003 and 2005.

Both reports can be found on TCOG's Web site, www.tcog.info.

Gibson was The Tennessean's Washington correspondent and served as political editor for more than 12 years before taking early retirement in 2005 to run TCOG, a press and public alliance that works to improve and preserve Tennessee's public records and sunshine laws.

TCOG was founded in 2003 by the Tennessee Press Association (TPA), Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, Common Cause, the state's four largest daily newspapers, The Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists chapters in Knoxville and Nashville. It has 40 contributing members.

Gibson chaired the TPA's Freedom of Information (FOI) Committee for 11 years, now serving as TPA's FOI coordinator. He also is vice president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition at the University of Missouri.

Gibson is a past national president of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and chaired Project Watchdog, SPJ's $1 million First Amendment education campaign between the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution in 1987 and the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights in 1991. SPJ's Project Sunshine, a national network of state FOI advocates, was created in 1990 during his presidency.

He is the recipient of the Wells Memorial Key, the highest honor SPJ bestows on a member.

Gibson is a University of Tennessee graduate, where he edited the Daily Beacon campus newspaper. An Army veteran, Gibson served two years with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. He was a Humanities Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he studied First Amendment law and Southern history.

For more information about Gibson's talk, contact Tabitha Gilliland, coordinator for Student Affairs Publications and Marketing, by telephone at (931) 221-7375 or by e-mail at gillilandt@apsu.edu. -- Melony A. Jones