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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Kansas AG: Private emails on public topics protected

Kansas’ attorney general said Tuesday that emails sent by state employees through private accounts aren’t public record, even when they deal with public business. Attorney General Derek Schmidt was responding to a question from state Sen. Anthony Hensley about whether such an email would constitute public record. Schmidt, who interpreted “private email” to be an…

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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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University of Oklahoma releases parking tickets after student newspaper joins suit

A decision by the student newspaper at the University of Oklahoma to join its staffer’s lawsuit against the school caused officials to reverse course on their original decision to withhold parking ticket citations. OU Daily staff member Joey Stipek had filed the suit in May 2013 after his open records requests for parking tickets was…

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New York newspaper asks judge to force release of license plate data

The Democrat & Chronicle is fighting a county’s denial to provide license plate information about seven newspaper employees and a couple government-owned vehicles, the paper reports. The Rochester, New York-based paper has reported that Monroe County is indiscriminately amassing license-plate information from high-speed cameras. During the summer, a reporter filed a Freedom of Information Law…

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Judge blocks Alabama newspaper from printing information obtained through open records request

A state court judge has temporarily blocked the Montgomery Advertiser from publishing information about a utility company’s plan for gas line safety, information obtained through an open records request. Alagasco says the Distribution Integrity Management Plan, released to the newspaper by the Alabama Public Service Commission, contains proprietary and safety-related information that could jeopardize public…

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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…

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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…

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