FOIA: Freedom of Information Act Importance 

FOIA

John E. Moss is known as the godfather of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Moss was born in 1915 in Hiawatha, Utah and moved to Sacramento, California in 1923 with his family. He joined the navy and then later became an appliance salesman.

Even though Moss grew up during the great depression and was dirt poor, he was still elected to the California Assembly and served for two terms. He later ran for Congress and won by four-tenths of one percentage point. Moss underestimated himself by thinking he would only serve one term, but the people of Sacramento liked him, leading to him serving 13 terms until his retirement.

Moss had his first run-in with government secrecy during the Eisenhower administration after they fired over 3,000 employees with claims that they had communist ties, and the administration declined the opportunity for the people to see the documents associated with their firing. From that moment on, Moss was determined to have more transparency from the government and less secrecy from the public.

On June 20, 1966, the House passed the Freedom of Information Act with the votes being 307–0.

The FOIA helps the public get the information they would both want and need in order to make decisions. It allows the public to be more aware of the events in their neighborhood, around the U.S, and within the government. The FOIA also helps by keeping public officials honest, makes government more efficient, and provides a check against the abuse of power, according to “The River Rock Times.”  The FOIA helps journalists with things like uncovering how many cans of vanilla Ensure the government bought to force-feed detainees at Guantanamo Bay, to who is having the loudest sex in New York City.

The FIOA is an important part of journalism because it helps journalists to uncover the truth, which in turn helps citizens govern themselves in a manner that they would decide carefully based on this information. John E. Moss knew the importance of the knowledge that the government holds, and that is why he fought to have the Freedom of Information Act passed.

Written by Jameisha Artis
Edited by Kimberley Spinney

Sources:

Pacific Standard: THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT—AND THE HERO WHO PIONEERED IT
The River Rock Times: Sunshine Week: The importance of FOIA in the digital age

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of NASA HQ PHOTO’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

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