Virginia’s secret police: A fight to hold law enforcement accountable

By Gary Harki, The Virginian-Pilot In February, the Virginia Senate passed a bill that would allow law enforcement agencies to keep secret the names of all police officers, deputy sheriffs and fire marshals. It eventually died in a House subcommittee, but only after journalists raised the alarm that the state of Virginia was about to…

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Judge: Missouri broke the law by concealing execution drug supplier

By Allison Wrabel Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem ruled that the Missouri Department of Corrections violated the Sunshine Law when it failed to reveal the name of the pharmacy that supplies the drugs for lethal injections. Under state law, the identities of individual execution team members are to be kept confidential. In 2013,…

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#FOIAFriday: International FOIA tips and resources

Requesting data or documents from another country can be a confusing and challenging task. What kinds of records are available? Who do you contact about them? Which laws govern their release? For #FOIAFriday this week we put together a roundup of some of our favorite resources on international records requests. If you have foreign FOIA…

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Global FOI: AP tests laws in 105 countries

**This article appeared in the Winter 2012 IRE Journal** By Martha Mendoza, The Associated Press My freedom of information lesson at The Associated Press Mexico City bureau was not going well. Everyone kept inexplicably cracking up. MISTAKE #1. It ends up that “FOIA” sounds remarkably close to a vulgar f-word in Spanish. Also, because Mexico actually…

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American clunker: U.S. FOIA falling behind other countries

**This article appeared in the Fall 2014 IRE Journal** By David Cuillier, University of Arizona School of Journalism When it comes to freedom of information, the United States can learn a lot from other countries. Now, 103 countries have freedom of information laws, most of those passed in the last 15 years. Many were modeled after the…

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Beyond narco tunnels and border security: Tips and techniques for investigating stories along the U.S.–Mexico border

**This article appeared in the 2015 1st Quarter IRE Journal** BY CELESTE GONZÁLEZ DE BUSTAMANTE » BORDER JOURNALISM NETWORK Geopolitical borders and the communities that thrive among them are unique places where cultures can be both connected and contested at the same time. Borderlanders, those who live on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border region,…

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Foreign FOI: How to request records in another country

**This article appeared in the 2015 1st Quarter IRE Journal** BY EMILIA DÍAZ-STRUCK » CENTRAL UNIVERSITY OF VENEZUELA The lack of information in one country does not mean that the information does not exist. Many times, stories connect with different parts of the world, and searching in other countries could improve the findings. Persons and…

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Finalists announced for 2015 Golden Padlock award

COLUMBIA, MISSOURI: Investigative Reporters and Editors is proud to announce the finalists for its 2015 Golden Padlock Award celebrating the most secretive government agency or individual in the United States. “There is a unique brand of courage displayed by public officials who deny, delay and circumvent the public’s right to know with a straight-faced sense of duty,”…

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Federal agencies fail FOIA test conducted by Syracuse University

Card If you report on the government, it may not surprise you to read that only seven of the 21 federal agencies recently FOIAed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) have provided records more than two months after the requests went out. TRAC, a research center that administers the FOIA Project out of Syracuse…

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Senator puts hold on widely supported FOIA bill

A bill designed to improve the way the federal government handles an increasing load of FOIA requests – a bill that had gained bipartisan support – could be dying after a senator blocked the legislation. The FOIA Improvement Act of 2014 would “create a pathway for the federal government to modernize the administration of FOIA”…

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