The art of access: Strategies for acquiring public records in an increasingly anti-media world

By Ashley Sutherland, Arizona State University Delays. Excessive redactions. Fees. These are just some of the issues journalists and other citizens face when requesting public records from the government. David Cuillier, director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism, and Miranda Spivack, a professor of journalism at DePauw University, offered tips and strategies on how…

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IRE Radio Podcast | BONUS: The State of the FOIA

It’s been 50 years since the federal Freedom of Information Act was signed into law. A lot’s happened since then – not all of it good for the press. We’re calling this bonus episode “The State of the FOIA” because, over the next 30 minutes, we’ll be talking to three experts to figure out what…

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Des Moines Register gets a win in an uphill fight for transparency

By Deron Lee, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on August 15, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. Not long after taking over as editor of the Des Moines Register in 2014, Amalie Nash told CJR that she was determined to uphold the paper’s “longstanding tradition of standing up for public records.” So now, as she prepares…

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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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IRE Radio Podcast | BONUS: Tips from a FOIA Terrorist

You’ve probably heard of Jason Leopold, even if his name doesn’t immediately ring a bell. He’s the journalist who forced the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails. He’s also unearthed shocking details on CIA torture and spying. Jason works at VICE News, and he’s the master of the federal FOIA request. In fact, he’s such a…

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IRE Preview: How to fight (and win) open records battles

Get the tools and inspiration you need to successfully fight for records at the IRE Conference in June. Jason Leopold, a self-described FOIA terrorist and a winner of this year’s IRE FOI Medal, will share his strategies and advice on how to wrangle information from recalcitrant officials. He’ll be joined by Brandon Smith, the journalist…

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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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