Open data benefits many, but cost breakdown unclear

Editor’s Note: This article first ran on July 20, 2017 on the Investigative Reporting Workshop’s website. By Clairissa Baker and Yang Sun, Investigative Reporting Workshop A new citywide data policy in Washington, D.C., shows there is no simple way for cities to clearly budget open data initiatives.  Meanwhile, as the city works this summer to…

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How one paper filed a FOIA request in Michigan—and got sued by the county

By Jonathan Peters, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on August 2, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. Michigan’s primary elections, taking place today, may offer few competitive races. But one of them has offered a look at an unusual type of legal action—one in which a government entity sues a local media outlet in response…

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Experts share tips for prying records out of government agencies

By Andrew Kreighbaum Working on a beat where most sources prefer to remain anonymous, VICE News reporter Jason Leopold has turned to extensive and aggressive FOIA work to get officials on the record. Leopold, who covers national security, said he has 1,500 FOIA requests out at any one time. “I then seek out the people…

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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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