Tags : FOIA

Behind the Story: How KATC exposed problems with early animal euthanasia in Louisiana

Video by KATC-Lafayette

You don’t need to work in a large newsroom to pull off an investigative story with impact. Earlier this year KATC-Lafayette’s Tina Macias and Allison Bourne-Vanneck revealed that in 2013 a Louisiana animal shelter euthanized a quarter of the dogs that passed through its doors in less than four days – the hold time stipulated by the parish’s animal control ordinance.

Macias, an investigative producer, used public records requests to track down documents on intakes and euthanasia drugs. When the shelter tried to charge the station thousands of dollars, Macias looked up the law and ...

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Finalists announced for 2014 Golden Padlock award

Investigative Reporters and Editors is proud to announce the finalists for its 2014 Golden Padlock Award celebrating the most secretive government agency or individual in the United States. 

“The spirit of secrecy is alive and well across the United States at all levels of government,” said IRE president David Cay Johnston. “Efforts to hold power to account on everything from the misconduct of judges to executions to a high-profile massacre have been undermined by public servants highly skilled in the art of information suppression. We’re pleased to acknowledge their efforts.” 

The nominees are:

The US Navy FOIA office for ...

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Public records request service sues CIA over FOIA practices

MuckRock is suing the CIA over a handful of specific FOIA requests that would shed light on how the agency determines what is and isn’t releasable, among other things.

The CIA “has a track record of holding itself apart from, and largely above, the Freedom of Information Act, consistently ignoring deadlines, refusing to work with requesters, and capriciously rejecting even routine requests for what should be clearly public information,” MuckRock wrote in a blog post.

The suit also addresses the way the CIA handles general requests for emails.

You can learn more about the individual FOIA requests involved in ...

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IRE Radio Podcast | FOIA Frustrations

We're back with another episode of the IRE Radio Podcast. This week we're focusing on FOIA. Here's the lineup:

  • Kirsten B. Mitchell, a former journalist and current facilitator with The Office of Government Information Services, talks about common FOIA problems and how to fix them.
  • Deb Nelson, Michael Ravnitzky, Charles Ornstein, and Jennifer LaFleur share tips on beating FOIA fees, arguing for data, and more.

You can find and download previous podcast episodes on our Soundcloud page.

 

EPISODE NOTES

Looking for links to the stories, resources and events we discussed on this week's podcast? We've ...

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A conversation with the federal FOIA Ombudsman’s office

Ever wonder what kinds of questions federal agencies ask FOIA liaisons? We did. So we went right to the source. Kirsten Mitchell is a facilitator in The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), a neutral office within the National Archives that anyone — requester or federal agency — can come to for help with the FOIA process.

Mitchell, a former journalist, will be available during the IRE Conference this month to answer questions about the FOIA process and help reporters with their requests. You can learn more and sign up here.

IRE student George Varney talked with Mitchell this week to learn ...

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Multiple data sets used to track fugitives who go free

In December 2011, a man fleeing from a drug robbery shot and killed New York City police officer Peter Figoski. New York reacted with understandable outrage, particularly when newspapers there revealed that the officer’s killer, Lamont Pride, should have been in jail at the time.

The police in Greensboro, N.C. were already after Pride on charges that he had shot another man during an argument. But when Pride ...

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News organizations file lawsuits against Missouri for failing to release execution drug records

Missouri's failure to release records regarding the drugs it uses in executions keeps the public from providing oversight of the death penalty. That's what the Associated Press and four other news organizations are arguing in a suit filed Thursday against the state. Another suit filed the same day by a reporter for St. Louis Public Radio, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri also challenges the secrecy.

The journalists say the public has a constitutional right to know what drugs are being used in executions carried out by the ...

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Louisiana failed to turn over key public records about execution drugs

Documents entered into court record in the lawsuit of one prisoner on death row show that the Louisiana Department of Corrections had documents that would have fulfilled a records request made by The Lens in 2013.

The Lens, a non-profit newsroom in New Orleans, had previously requested records pertaining to the purchase and inventory of the state's supply of pentobarbital, as well as communications about the lethal injection drug. The only documents received in response to this request were ones showing that the department had purchased the drug for about $5,000. A later request also asked for records ...

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Cuomo administration maintains secrecy, uses private email for official business

Some New York state officials are using private email accounts to conduct official business. One reporter at ProPublica received an email from Howard Glaser, director of state operations and a top adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, regarding an open records request. This email was sent from Glaser's personal email account. But later, when the reporter filed a request for emails sent from Glaser's private account, he was informed that the state had no such records. Even after submitting the request again (this time with the email that he had received from Glaser attached as evidence) the ...

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Virginia Supreme Court: FOIA does not cover faculty emails, unpublished research

Faculty emails and unpublished university research can be deemed “proprietary” and withheld under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Supreme Court announced last week.

The law was called into question in 2011 when the American Tradition Institute and Virginia Del. Robert Marshall filed a request for emails of Michael Mann, a prominent climate scientist and former University of Virginia professor.

According to the Washington Post:

Lawyers for U-Va. turned over about 1,000 documents to Marshall and ATI, led by former EPA attorney David Schnare, but withheld another 12,000 papers and e-mails, saying that work “of a ...

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