TCOG services

Tennessee Coalition for Open Government has five key services and programs:

Help Line for public records / open meetings

TCOG operates a help line for citizens, journalists and government officials related to access to government records or a governing body’s public meetings. We can answer questions and explain potential options as well as guide citizens and journalists through the process of their particular issue. We also can guide citizens through how to make an open records request and what to expect. We do not offer legal services.

Public presentations

We provide public presentations about the status of government transparency in Tennessee, providing an overview of citizen rights under Tennessee’s open records and open meetings law as well as current issues related to access, such as fees, privacy concerns and litigation and legislation impacting access. We also train citizens on how best to use our access laws to gain more information about their local government and local issues. If you are interested in hosting one, email Deborah Fisher at fisher@tcog.info.

Journalist and student training

TCOG Executive Director at a University of Memphis journalism class.

TCOG Executive Director Deborah Fisher teaching a public records / open meetings class for journalism students at a University of Memphis.

We provide training on Tennessee’s open government laws to equip journalists or students with the tools and information necessary to acquire public records or access to public meetings in situations where such access is being resisted or denied. Our training also gives an overview of public records exempt from access by statute, as well as meetings that can be closed from public view. This training is for media professionals or others who interact regularly with government in the acquisition of information. Our aim is for students to leave this training with new knowledge of the breadth of public records available for public interest journalism, and how to more effectively acquire government records.

Surveys and audits

TCOG periodically conducts surveys on the status of open government in Tennessee and the availability of government information to the public.

News and resources

TCOG tracks proposed legislation, court cases and legal opinions that impact open government in Tennessee, as well as tracks violations of open government laws. It provides news and perspective of these developments through its website, contributed columns and media interviews. TCOG also provides resources on its website to assist the public in public records requests, and research into particular issues.


 What people are saying about TCOG’s programs

“My school, the University of Memphis, is not a bastion of transparency. So for timid student journalists who don’t understand their rights, reporting on big issues can feel impossible. After Continue Reading

Jonathan Capriel

“The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government provided great tips to help our Investigative Team get government documents that had previously been denied. Following their tip, the information was immediately released. Continue Reading

April Thompson – WREG-TV, Memphis

“When I’m on a tight deadline and need quick, impactful help, I turn to the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. Whether I need public records law, an opinion or just Continue Reading

Nate Morabito – investigative reporter

“Intellectual freedom — the right to seek, receive, hold, and disseminate information from all points of view without restriction — is a core value of our profession and the cornerstone Continue Reading

Anthony Prince, Tennessee Library Association