Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Last day in Zambia is hectic

Today's post must be short, at least for now, because Internet access is problematic and my last day in Zambia is a hectic one. I had hoped for an easy getaway day tomorrow, but U.S. Ambassador Mark Storella asked for a meeting and so did the Zambian Home Ministry, which we have had trouble scheduling.

This afternoon at the U.S. Embassy I met with academics and civic leaders who want a Freedom of Information Act, and showed them the video that the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center produced to help officials follow Kentucky's open-government laws. The most telling line in the video was from Al Smith, who says that before the Open Records Act journalists got records "by charm or being on the side of the people who controlled" the records. That's the way it is in Zambia. The video was well received.

Tonight I was one of two panelists at a public meeting sponsored by the Press Freedom Committee of The Post, Zambia's only privately owned daily newspaper. A crowd of about 70 people asked many interesting questions, and I'll expand my report later.

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