Resource Center

Filing FOIAs and getting what you want

Full knowledge and comprehension of the Freedom of Information Act is essential for any investigative journalist- it's the key to unlocking data and documents which can separate fact and fiction in your stories. With the Freedom of Information story pack, you will get an in-depth look at the ways journalists have fought for information, the obstacles they encountered along the way, and the ultimate success stories which show the power of the Freedom of Information Act. 

Related Tipsheets

  • FOIA/Open Records
    This tipsheet takes you through the ins and outs of requesting open records.

  • Broadcast: The Paper Chase
    A guide for broadcasters on how to navigate through endless stacks of government documents and forms, in order to find the real story.

  • Getting to Yes
    LaFleur gives fantastic tips on how to get what you need through a FOI request. She even gives actual examples of being told no and how to turn that into a 'yes'.

  • The FOIA Maze: Tips for getting the records you need
    Donald offers his years of wisdom to help navigate the FOIA maze with great tips and reminders. Follow his instruction and you should get just what you need.

    Use this sample FOIA letter to request pension records.

  • Governmentwide FOI contact list
    This is an excel spreadsheet with hundreds of contacts for different government offices whom you can contact for FOI requests

  • Covering Veteran's Issues
    If you're covering any form of veterans' issues, this tipsheet is a must. Included are helpful tips on dealing with families of veterans and what documents to request when filing a FOIA.

  • Digging for Data in the UK
    Rosenbaum's powerpoint explores Freedom of Infomation as covered in the UK.

Related Stories

  • The Fed's Trillion-Dollar Secret
    "Bloomberg News sued the Federal Reserve under the FOI Act, seeking disclosure of its loans to banks during the financial crisis. The central bank fought the release of the data for more than two years, during which time congress and the courts both weighed in on Bloomberg's side."

  • The Hidden Life of Guns
    The investigation details the way guns move through society, from retail sales to street crimes. The Post set out to break the secrecy imposed by Congress and an examination of how gunes are used in crimes. Their investigation included creating a database of more than 35,000 guns traced to crimes; a comprehensive database of 511 police officers killed by firearms; lists from confidential sources of the top 12 gun dealers who have sold the most weapons trace from Mexican crime scenes over the past two years.

  • Gauging FOI Worldwide
    "On a year-long stint in Mexico, Mendoza learned to use the country's new freedom of information laws. This inspired her to find out what other countries had similar laws and to encourage other reporters to use them." What came out of this were 140 AP reporters from around the world filing FOI reqeusts.

  • Both Sides of the Law
    This series looks into the Milwaukee police department's policies for officers who break the law. They found at least 93 officers that have been disciplined for violating the laws and ordinances they were sworn to uphold.

  • Bad Medicine
    "This series details the history of a Kansas City area neurosurgeon who has a long history of malpractice cases involving paralysis, disfigurement and deaths yet maintains a spotless Kansas medical license."

  • House of Horrors
    This series follows the devastating facts of the death of a 10-year-old girl and the abuse of her twin brother and how child welfare workers failed to notice the warning signs until it was too late.