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FOIA

NEWS

FOIA Machine is joining MuckRock

MuckRock, the nonprofit dedicated to transparency and open government, announced Tuesday that it's adding FOIA Machine to its organization. MuckRock, which helps reporters file freedom of information requests and other services for a fee, will maintain a FOIA Machine site separately and keep it free. "The folks working on FOIA tools is a very small world, so the MuckRock and … Read More
NEWS

FOIA Wiki launches in beta

A new tool launched on Monday seeks to work as both a resource and a collaborative space for people using the Freedom of Information Act. FOIA Wiki, from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, includes details on FOIA exemptions and fees, contact information for federal agencies and an open forum for questions. There's also a page … Read More
NEWS

7 lessons from BuzzFeed’s 'FOIA-friendly newsroom'

Does your newsroom have a public records strategy? Do you track how many Freedom of Information requests reporters make? Who do your reporters turn to for help if they are struggling to get records? Answers to these questions likely vary by newsroom, but I recently got a chance to find out how BuzzFeed’s news staff is working to improve the … Read More
NEWS

Running into a brick wall with your FOIA request? Take it public

When I’m having trouble getting public records from a government agency, I’ll often turn to my colleagues for advice or just to vent. But sometimes, you need to take your struggle public. That’s what New York City reporter Joaquin Sapien did last month. After spending nearly a year trying to get records from the city and exchanging more than 50 … Read More
NEWS

Here's why you can't successfully FOIA President Obama's 'Game of Thrones' screener

Do you remember your first Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request? Vanessa Golembewski, a features writer at the entertainment and lifestyle website Refinery29, has a memorable one. She recently asked the federal government to give her unreleased episodes of "Game of Thrones" after learning that the TV show had given advanced copies to President Barack Obama. “President Obama is … Read More
NEWS

What should you FOIA? There's a new tool to help you figure that out.

Max Galka has worked most of his career in finance and insurance. With that work, he had to create models of natural disasters, and to do that, he had to get information on past natural disaster damage. "And that's really when I discovered Freedom on Information," he said. Years of FOIA requests taught Galka that there was no … Read More
NEWS

Reporter reveals ‘12 kinds of emails’ professor got after blocking media

I remember watching coverage of the protests at the University of Missouri in November and seeing a YouTube video of an assistant professor grabbing at a journalist’s camera and calling for backup to block him from recording. "Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here!" Melissa Click said in the … Read More
NEWS

Can FOIA be funny?

Can FOIA be funny? Curtis Raye thinks so. He has created a comedy show celebrating the quirky, off-the-wall records he and others have found through the Freedom of Information Act. Raye, a writer and former improv teacher, says he created “FOIA Love: A Comedy Show About Public Records” after spending nearly a year working as a field … Read More
NEWS

Ask for check registers and other public records tips you probably haven't thought of

Check out the checks. (Photo by jridgewayphotography/Flickr) I was at a journalism conference in Nashville last year when I heard about a public record I had never thought to request. Tawnell Hobbs, a reporter at The Dallas Morning News, was giving a presentation on school finance reporting when she mentioned an investigative story she had done using … Read More
NEWS

Top 10 tips for getting public records

Have you ever been denied a public record? Or worse, has your request been ignored? Student journalists at Indiana University dealt with those frustrations this past spring when they put 90 county agencies to the test by asking for digital access to public records. The students found that more than half of the agencies failed to comply with basic … Read More
NEWS

Federal Election Commission refuses to release computer security study

Flaws in election regulator's systems highlighted in Center for Public Integrity story This Story is being republished with permission from the Center for Public Integrity. Federal Election CommissionNext to the Federal Election Commission's front door is a quotation from former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." But … Read More
NEWS

Obtaining government officials' business emails should be easier

This is another in a series of articles by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press covering legal issues that affect journalists. RCFP's Legal Fellow Kristin Bergman wrote this article. In this 2011 file photo, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from inside a C-17 military plane. South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, wants to know … Read More
NEWS

Why employment contracts are so much fun for a public records geek

What is your favorite public record to request? Employment contracts are near the top of my list. They can tell you so much more than what someone's salary is. For instance, did you know that some public employees get private jets, personal drivers, country club memberships and other benefits as part of their job? Journalists around the country have discovered … Read More
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