Tags : FOIA

Mississippi town could make text messages readily available

A town in Mississippi could soon become the first in the state to archive and make available the text messages of public officials, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. The pending policy comes in response to a Mississippi Ethic Commission ruling against Tupelo, after the city had denied the Daily Journal text messages between the mayor and another city official.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History laws already require that cities hold on to text messages. As local government records, the texts should be open to the public. But state officials have openly stated that municipalities don’t ...

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Appeals court upholds denial of FOIA request for detainee's photo

A U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a Freedom of Information Act request denial to grant photos and other materials showing Guantanamo Bay prisoner Mohammed al-Qahtani to the Center for Constitutional Rights. Al-Qahtani is the alleged would-be 20th hijacker on 9/11 and one of the highest profile U.S. detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The panel ruled that "the federal government sufficiently made its case that the videos and photographs of al-Qahtani should be kept secret under Exemption 1 to FOIA, which provides for the withholding of materials in the interest of ‘national defense or foreign policy,’” according to the ...

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Do police have to release the name of the officer involved in the Ferguson, Mo. shooting?

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Ferguson, Missouri police department’s decision not to release the name of the officer involved in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown. To get some legal answers, we turned to professor Sandy Davidson, who teaches communications law at the Missouri School of Journalism. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • While an incident report is considered an open record under Missouri law, that document must legally include: The date, time, specific location, name of the victim and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the initial report of a crime or ...
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Cuomo administration policy allows state to delete emails of government employees

According to WNYC, "New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration — which the governor pledged would be the most transparent in state history — has quietly adopted policies that allow it to purge the emails of tens of thousands of state employees, cutting off a key avenue for understanding and investigating state government."

"Last year, the state started deleting any emails more than 90 days old that users hadn’t specifically saved — a much more aggressive stance than many other states. The policy shift was first reported by the Albany Times Union."

Behind the Story: How KATC exposed problems with early animal euthanasia in Louisiana

Video by KATC-Lafayette

You don’t need to work in a large newsroom to pull off an investigative story with impact. Earlier this year KATC-Lafayette’s Tina Macias and Allison Bourne-Vanneck revealed that in 2013 a Louisiana animal shelter euthanized a quarter of the dogs that passed through its doors in less than four days – the hold time stipulated by the parish’s animal control ordinance.

Macias, an investigative producer, used public records requests to track down documents on intakes and euthanasia drugs. When the shelter tried to charge the station thousands of dollars, Macias looked up the law and ...

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Finalists announced for 2014 Golden Padlock award

Investigative Reporters and Editors is proud to announce the finalists for its 2014 Golden Padlock Award celebrating the most secretive government agency or individual in the United States. 

“The spirit of secrecy is alive and well across the United States at all levels of government,” said IRE president David Cay Johnston. “Efforts to hold power to account on everything from the misconduct of judges to executions to a high-profile massacre have been undermined by public servants highly skilled in the art of information suppression. We’re pleased to acknowledge their efforts.” 

The nominees are:

The US Navy FOIA office for ...

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Public records request service sues CIA over FOIA practices

MuckRock is suing the CIA over a handful of specific FOIA requests that would shed light on how the agency determines what is and isn’t releasable, among other things.

The CIA “has a track record of holding itself apart from, and largely above, the Freedom of Information Act, consistently ignoring deadlines, refusing to work with requesters, and capriciously rejecting even routine requests for what should be clearly public information,” MuckRock wrote in a blog post.

The suit also addresses the way the CIA handles general requests for emails.

You can learn more about the individual FOIA requests involved in ...

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IRE Radio Podcast | FOIA Frustrations

We're back with another episode of the IRE Radio Podcast. This week we're focusing on FOIA. Here's the lineup:

  • Kirsten B. Mitchell, a former journalist and current facilitator with The Office of Government Information Services, talks about common FOIA problems and how to fix them.
  • Deb Nelson, Michael Ravnitzky, Charles Ornstein, and Jennifer LaFleur share tips on beating FOIA fees, arguing for data, and more.

You can find and download previous podcast episodes on our Soundcloud page.

 

EPISODE NOTES

Looking for links to the stories, resources and events we discussed on this week's podcast? We've ...

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A conversation with the federal FOIA Ombudsman’s office

Ever wonder what kinds of questions federal agencies ask FOIA liaisons? We did. So we went right to the source. Kirsten Mitchell is a facilitator in The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), a neutral office within the National Archives that anyone — requester or federal agency — can come to for help with the FOIA process.

Mitchell, a former journalist, will be available during the IRE Conference this month to answer questions about the FOIA process and help reporters with their requests. You can learn more and sign up here.

IRE student George Varney talked with Mitchell this week to learn ...

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Multiple data sets used to track fugitives who go free

In December 2011, a man fleeing from a drug robbery shot and killed New York City police officer Peter Figoski. New York reacted with understandable outrage, particularly when newspapers there revealed that the officer’s killer, Lamont Pride, should have been in jail at the time.

The police in Greensboro, N.C. were already after Pride on charges that he had shot another man during an argument. But when Pride ...

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