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.
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.
SAMPLE FOIA LETTER FOR PENSION RECORDS
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
Data and Documents
Luther, one of IRE's training directors, provides this Powerpoint presentation on the importance of gathering data and documents, not only for the story you already have but for the story that's not been written yet.
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.
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.
"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.