Scott Pruitt wins 2017 Golden Padlock

Investigative Reporters and Editors has named Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the winner of its annual Golden Padlock Award recognizing the most secretive U.S. agency or individual.  Pruitt was selected for this honor for steadfastly refusing to provide emails in the public interest and removing information…

Read more »

Will a new law really make Illinois’ FOIA stronger? Journalists there aren’t so sure

By Jackie Spinner, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on August 16, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. This summer, the Illinois Legislature stiffened the penalties that can be imposed on public bodies that refuse to comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Act. HB 4715, part of a two-bill package known as “Molly’s…

Read more »

The public records process can be messy. Muckrock hopes to tidy it up.

By Chava Gourarie, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on July 14, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. The team behind Muckrock, a nonprofit that helps users navigate government records laws, launched a project today that aims to catalog all of the reasons state agencies give for rejecting public records requests. In doing so, they hope…

Read more »

How two court rulings involving universities breathe new life into the right to know

By Jonathan Peters, CJR.org Editor’s Note: This article first ran on March 23, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. Sunshine Week brought some welcome news for transparency advocates this year: Two state courts ruled, in suits brought by news organizations, that freedom-of-information laws require private entities to disclose their records if they perform a…

Read more »

Quickly find SEC filings in a specific location using a new tool from Sqoop

If you’re tasked with covering business, you might want to check out a new feature from Sqoop. The document-mining site recently announced a new geographic search/location filter feature for SEC filings. That means that reporters can look for all SEC form types, or just a subset such as Form Ds or 8-Ks, in their state.…

Read more »

Strategies for getting the data and documents you need

By Quint Forgey In our seemingly endless quest to obtain government documents, it’s important to recognize and alleviate the often tense relationships between reporters and public information officers. During Friday’s panel discussion, “They’ve got it, you want it: Getting data and docs,” Rich Orman, senior deputy district attorney of Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, said bureaucrats…

Read more »

IRE Radio Podcast | ICE’s Secret List

What happens to immigrants convicted of sex crimes? The answer, Maria Sacchetti found out, is often unsettling. Her investigation for the Boston Globe revealed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was quietly releasing violent offenders back into the U.S. when their home countries wouldn’t take them. On this episode, Sacchetti talks about the reporting process…

Read more »

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,…

Read more »

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…

Read more »