This article was originally published on Nisonco, and appears here with permission.
One of the most important skills for a journalist to have is the ability to file successful records requests, commonly referred to as FOIAs.
FOIA is an acronym for the Freedom Of Information Act. That’s the name of crucial federal transparency legislation that gives media and the public access to records from government agencies. And each state has its own version of FOIA governing the release of records from state and local agencies.
These laws are essential to a free press and have made enormous contributions to the public’s understanding of how the government operates. Reporters can use records requests to gain access to documents like emails between government officials, agency reports and statistics, and a LOT more.
You can obtain fun or interesting information, such as complaints made by CIA employees about the food in their cafeteria. But more importantly, you can gain access to truly newsworthy documents as well. Under the current administration, reporters have used FOIA to shed light on actions taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as to discover how much money the federal government …