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FOIA

30 posts

Member Profiles

The FBI’s Obsessive Inquiry Into Edward R. Murrow

During the height of the “Red Scare,” the FBI built an elaborate case alleging America’s favorite newsman was a Communist. MuckRock sifted through 700 pages of Bureau documents that tracked Murrow’s acquaintances, movements and alleged involvement with Communist-front organizations.

Resource

FOIA This! — Digging Out Government Spending

Tracking down local government expenses is a recurrent theme for many successful freedom of information requests. Some recent examples suggest that quite a variety of information is potentially available — about credit card charges, salaries, retirement parties, and even costs of leak investigations. Have a great story you developed using a FOI/RTI request? Send it to us at freeinfo@email.gwu.edu. We’re currently looking for examples regarding immigration.

Member Profiles

MuckRock’s Brown on FOIA as Journalism’s Flashlight

FOIA is the solar-powered flashlight of the journalism world — it offers direct access to primary source material which sometimes leads to a big scoop. MuckRock executive editor JPat Brown shares the compelling, and sometimes hilarious, stories that results from MuckRock’s FOIA requests.

Case Studies

Exposing the Cost of Police Misconduct in Chicago

In researching Settling for Misconduct, a story on settlements and judgments of police misconduct, the Chicago Reporter had to account for details from hundreds of county and federal court filings, identify thousands of officers named in civil complaints, tally hundreds of millions of dollars in monetary awards and input all these data in a proper database. They also had to build a slick web app to present the data to the public. Here is how they did it.

Case Studies

FOI Laws A Global Success Story

All around the world, very real benefits result when legal tools are used to obtain government information. Because there are so many frustrations for those who seek information, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the positive benefits. Freedom of information (FOI) reform advocates need to document and celebrate the victories.

Data Journalism

Open Data Movement Reaches Turning Point

Only one-tenth of national data is really open and free, according to the third annual Open Data Barometer by the World Wide Web Foundation. “The open data movement is at a turning point,” the report finds. “If we allow this moment to slip away, however, open data could fade into a ghost town of abandoned pilots, outdated data portals, and unused apps.”

Reporting Tools & Tips

Holding Big Fish Accountable: How to Uncover Corruption

In a 2011 Transparency International survey, more than 3,000 business executives from around the world were asked to assess the effectiveness of various approaches to weeding out corruption. The result: nearly half (49%) indicated that investigative journalism played a critical role. Respondents from Pakistan (73%) and Brazil (79%), countries where the press reports fiercely on suspected acts of corruption, placed particular faith in the media’s ability to uncover wrongdoing. Why did the participants feel so strongly that journalists can help?

News & Analysis

On the Trail: How To Request Information from Authorities

Power sets barriers and the reporter pushes back against them—it’s an unwritten rule on which Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez believed all journalistic work is based. Some governments, however, have begun to voluntarily lower these barriers by approving legislation designed to make information more accessible to their citizens. To date, approximately 90 countries globally have freedom of information laws, which establish rules and deadlines for facilitating the collection of data.