Tipsheets

Browse more 5,000 tipsheets from our national conferences and Watchdog Workshops on how to cover specific beats, conduct a great interview and learn countless tips on where to find the information you need.

Logged-in members can download any tipsheet, for free. Contact the Resource Center 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org for questions.

Search results for "public records" ...

  • #MeToo U: Sexual assault on campus

    Covering rape and sexual violence at universities comes with a whole range of obstacles, not the least of which is gaining trust of victims. Find out how to get – and vet – reports of sexual assault on college campuses through police reports, data, court cases, school files and other public records at public and private institutions. Get some advice on finding and building trust with sources, especially students, in the uniquely insular campus climate

    Tags: campus sexual assault; sexual violence; rape; universities; college campuses; public schools; private schools

    By Alex Stuckey, Kenny Jacoby and Paula Lavigne

    2018

  • Mastering the law to overcome roadblocks to access

    Journalists persistently report certain recurring access barriers (secretive police withholding documents, quasi-public nonprofits claiming to be "private" for FOI purposes, government employees gagged from giving interviews, databases hidden behind proprietary trade-secret software or made prohibitively expensive to duplicate, "student privacy" as a blanket excuse for campus opacity), and there are legal responses and strategies to overcome each of these. Mastering the law of access will help journalists tell their best stories and minimize delay and expense in getting the data and documents that make investigations come alive.

    Tags: public records; public records laws; withholding documents; government employees; hidden databases

    By Carol Marbin Miller and Miranda Spivack

    2018

  • The wizarding world of investigative research

    Investigative reporters and researchers will dive into the latest tools and tricks for public records research and advanced search techniques, ride on to online privacy and alerting services and finish the run with personal web caching and archiving.

    Tags: research; investigative research; public records research; advanced search techniques; online privacy; web caching; web archiving

    By Barbara Gray, Margot Williams and Gary Price

    2018

  • On the beat: How to ferret out government contracting abuse

    Learn how to unearth shady or improper government contracting arrangements at the federal, state and local levels. The panelists will provide details of how they uncovered shenanigans that cost taxpayers millions of dollars -- even billions of dollars -- in procurements for two-way radios, K-12 education and Pentagon work. Learn more about filing public records requests, contacting the competitors of suspect companies and tracking incestuous relationships involving contract officers.

    Tags: government contracts; federal; state; local; contract abuse

    By Patrick Malone

    2018

  • What is that politician hiding? And other backgrounding tips

    Election season is upon us. We’ll discuss the best tips, websites and tools for scrubbing candidates at all levels of government, from the Trump administration to City Hall to the courthouse. We’ll show you how to investigate through politicians' business ties, past work experience, public records and even family to find potential conflicts of interest while writing the investigative profile — plus other stories that help inform readers. You'll learn backgrounding techniques that can be used for stories about politicos in the never-ending election season or for profiles about everyday individuals in your community.

    Tags: backgrounding; politicians; public records; candidates; government; elections

    By Steve Eder and James Grimaldi

    2018

  • Prying loose public records

    Hear practical advice and strategies for crafting public records requests, tracking them and holding officials’ feet to the fire. Includes strategies for dealing with excuses and obstacles from public officials who stand in your way of getting key documents and data. Discover new free tools and resources for journalists from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

    Tags: public records; accountability; public officials; Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

    By Adam Marshall

    2019

  • A conversation on how to build a beat on public records

    The right to access public records is more than a tool for journalism. It’s a critical public policy for business, law, free expression and private citizenship in a democracy. Come learn how to build a beat covering access to public records, much the way journalists are already accustomed to covering access to education or access to health care. Panelists will share a range of experiences with this work, a roster of resources for reporters and editors who need to get up to speed on the topic, and a tipsheet offering best practices for how to ethically cover a topic that is also critical to our own profession.

    Tags: public records; access to records; public policy

    By Hilary Niles

    2018

  • FOIA appeals and disputes

    So you filed a FOIA and didn’t get what you wanted. Now what? We’ll walk you through the options for nudging, shaming, and maybe forcing the government to give you records under FOIA. When should you appeal, when should you go to court and when should you walk away? These panelists have tried it all and will walk you through the techniques that work.

    Tags: FOIA; records requests; public records

    By Brad Heath

    2018

  • Insider secrets about your open records requests

    Get a behind-the-scenes look at the discussions on the other side of your open records requests. Government officials who handle federal and state-level requests will talk about the common problems they see with requests and how journalists can better formulate requests to get better — and quicker — responses.

    Tags: records requests; public records; government officials; effective record requests

    By Sheela Portonovo

    2018

  • FOI Jedi moves: Psychological tactics to get public records and increase public support for FOI

    Get the upper hand when you're persuading officials to cough up records by using some Jedi mind tricks -- aka psychological tactics based on social science research. This tipsheet covers some tactics to try, along with messaging strategies to increase public support for FOI when writing stories and talking with citizens.

    Tags: FOIA; public records; getting records; FOIA tactics

    By David Cuillier

    2018