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UFCJC Alum Presents Research on the Importance of Local News in Fostering Open Government

University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) alumnus Brett Posner-Ferdman, B.S. Journalism 2024 and UF College of Liberal Arts B.A Political Science 2024, recently presented research to scholars and experts in global freedom information at the Global Conference on Transparency Research in Brussels, Belgium.

The paper, “Dark Deserts: Newspaper Decline and Its Relation to Subnational Compliance with Public Records Laws,” focuses on the importance of local news in fostering more transparent government.

Posner-Ferdman submitted 308 public records requests to government agencies in 44 states and recorded how the agencies responded, if they responded at all. Those responses were then compared to data showing newspapers per capita in the states, as well as strength of press associations, which advocate for transparent government.

“We found that states with the healthiest newspaper ecosystem are more likely to have more open government, responsive and compliant to citizens’ requests for public records,” Posner-Ferdman said. “This provides evidence that local journalism matters, and if newspapers continue to go out of business, we could end up with a far more secretive government.”

Posner-Ferdman conducted the research on behalf of the Brechner Freedom of Information Project and for his honor’s thesis. He was advised by UFCJC Journalism Professor Kim Walsh-Childers and mentored by former Brechner Director Frank LoMonte. He was selected by the UF Alumni Association and the UF Honors Program as an Outstanding Scholar for his outstanding academic performance and comprehensive undergraduate research over the last four years.

While at UF, Posner-Ferdman interned for both CNN’s editorial team and the U.S. Consulate in Toronto as a political and elections research specialist.  He is currently exploring opportunities to work in elections and politics for the next year before entering law school.

Posner-Ferdman co-presented the research with David Cuillier, director of the Brechner Freedom of Information Project.

“This is a testament to the outstanding students at UF –undergraduates presenting research at international forums and helping the public better understand the world,” Cuillier said. “And it’s only the beginning. Think of the impact Brett and other students like him will have on society.”

Posted: May 16, 2024
Category: Alumni News, Brechner Center, College News
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