A SHORT HISTORY
In 1981, Arizona Republic political columnist Bernie Wynn was fed up with the slow and at times non-existent response of government agencies to requests for rightful access to public records under the Arizona Public Records Law. Particularly vulnerable to this lack of proper government response were journalists working for Arizona’s smaller media, which often lacked the resources to do legal battle with such agencies just to get access to the records they were legally entitled to examine.
At Wynn’s instigation and with the cooperation of several like-minded Arizona journalists, the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona was born in October 1981 by its charter members: Arizona Broadcasters Association, Arizona Cable Telecommunications Association, Arizona Newspapers Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. The new coalition established a hotline at Phoenix law firm Brown and Bain (now Perkins Coie) that any Arizona journalist, professional or student, could call with basic legal questions about access under the Arizona Public Records Law or Arizona Open Meeting Law.
In 2002, the Arizona Press Club became the coalition’s fifth charter member. The coalition celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2011 noting several Arizona Supreme Court and federal court decisions guaranteeing the right of access to government by the public and the news media began with calls to the coalition hotline. In 2012, the coalition began to accept and welcome additional members from among Arizona media, open-government groups and like-minded individuals.
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Article II, Section 6, Arizona Constitution:
“Every person may freely speak, write and publish on all subjects,
being responsible for the abuse of that right.”