STATEMENT: The NewsGuild of NY condemns potential restrictions to New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act

Changes would create onerous roadblocks choking journalists’ access to public information.


NEW YORK – The NewsGuild of New York strongly opposes NJ bills S2930 and A4045, which would decimate the New Jersey Open Public Records Act and roll back vital avenues used to hold the powerful accountable and bring information to the public.

New Jersey lawmakers are scheduled to discuss the proposed changes in a hearing today. Members of The NewsGuild of New York will be testifying in opposition to the bills.

The NewsGuild of New York is the labor union representing more than 100 journalists working at many of the state’s top newspapers including The Record, New Jersey Herald, Daily Record, Asbury Park Press, Courier News, Home News Tribune and The Jersey Journal.

“The only thing threatened by the free flow of information is corruption,” said Mike Davis, a reporter at the Asbury Park Press and acting unit chair of the APP-MCJ Guild, which represents editorial staff at the Asbury Park Press, Courier News and Home News Tribune. “During Sunshine Week, New Jersey should be celebrating laws that protect the public’s right to information that helps them make better informed decisions about their lives. Our journalists take that mission seriously. We want New Jersey legislators to take that mission seriously, too.”


Some of the most anti-democratic restrictions would: 

  • Allow government officials to deny requests based on overly broad qualifiers, such as information that might "result in harassment.”
  • Impose incredibly narrow parameters for journalists and other requestors to access even basic correspondence, while also excluding all email and call logs from any request. 
  • Create a task force to review police records and overload it with law enforcement and government voices, outweighing press freedom and public advocates.
  • No longer require documents and records to be provided in a requested accessible format, making the process of data analysis even more burdensome.  


Perhaps most glaringly, the legislation would make fee-shifting discretionary, potentially leaving journalists or any person requesting material on the hook for legal bills related to a request for public records, even in a victorious case. Fee-shifting is mandatory under current law, and this potential change can only be viewed as a way to discourage requestors, including news organizations, from pursuing legitimate legal challenges when records are unreasonably or illegally denied. 

“OPRA requests are essential for New Jersey journalists to get the important information we need to write much-needed articles for the public,” said Kaitlyn Kanzler, a reporter at The Record and unit chair of The Record Guild. “These records are already difficult to obtain, and putting more restrictions on these requests is a threat to transparency.”

New Jersey journalists have used the Open Public Records Act to bring to light issues that the public did not know were happening. OPRA requests have led to stories that legislators found so essential they changed laws and policies. By weakening OPRA, legislators are weakening a vital avenue to protect the public.

“OPRA is a critical resource for reporters, and therefore every New Jersey resident, to understand how our governments are operating,” said Teri West, a reporter at the Jersey Journal and unit chair of the Jersey Journal Guild. “Now is a time to double down on transparency and access, not to build a shield.”



  1. Sign and share this Communications Workers of America petition 
  2. Email the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) at and Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-Somerset), at and let them know how important open access to records is to our democracy.
  3. You can also submit written testimony to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee at and Assembly State and Local Government Committee at and demand legislators vote “no” on bills S2930 and A4045.

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