About the Center

Our Mission

The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications exists to advance understanding, appreciation and support for freedom of information in the state of Florida, the nation and the world.

Through education and promotion of freedom of information laws and policies, the Center seeks to foster open government and a participatory democracy.

In addition, The Brechner Center serves the public with information about the First Amendment, freedom of information, and access to government information issues.

Since 1977, The Brechner Center has been a freedom of information resource in Florida and beyond.

What We Do

  • Educate the public, press and government officials about the value of open government and the important role that freedom of information plays in a democracy.
  • Monitor developments in the area of freedom of information at all levels of government.
  • Provide clear, current and useful information in response to queries about First Amendment and access issues.
  • Conduct and publish scholarly research that underscores the importance of freedom of information to society.
  • Foster the work of graduate students in the areas of media law and policy.

The Brechner Center answers queries about media law from journalists, attorneys, and other members of the public. The Center is prepared to explain issues relating to media law, provide educational and training materials, react to current developments, and offer speakers for meetings and conferences.

The Brechner Center is a non-profit educational center. Although The Brechner Center does not provide legal advice, its director answers general questions about libel, privacy, prior restraints, freedom of information, Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Laws, access to courts and other First Amendment issues.

In order to better serve you, we ask that you telephone The Brechner Center at (352) 392-2273 or alternatively, email us at brechnerreport@jou.ufl.edu.

Resources

The Brechner Center houses a variety of resources, including:

  • A comprehensive collection of newspaper clippings about Florida media law since 1976
  • Publications summarizing media law in individual states
  • Online legal databases
  • An extensive book collection

Academic Affiliation

The Brechner Center, a unit of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, is relied upon by media organizations nationwide for information about media law developments in Florida. The Center is a member of the National FOI Coalition.

The Center’s director regularly discusses freedom of information issues with public officials, the media, and individual citizens. As one of the few freedom of information centers housed in an academic institution, the Center also sponsors research and produces publications.

History

The Brechner Center is the successor to the Florida Freedom of Information Clearinghouse, established in 1977. For nearly 10 years, the Clearinghouse operated under the direction of Professor Jo Anne Smith. Many of the funds for the Clearinghouse endowment were provided by the Florida news media.

Joseph L. Brechner, an Orlando broadcaster and advocate of freedom of information, provided more than $1 million for the eminent scholar endowment, funds to construct a suite of offices, and funds to enlarge the operational endowment. In 1986, the Clearinghouse was renamed the Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information to honor Mr. Brechner’s contributions to freedom of information. The Center’s founding director, Dr. Bill F. Chamberlin, ran the Center until 1999, when he initiated the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project and the Center’s assistant director, Sandra F. Chance, Esq., was named executive director of the Center.