Freedom (of Information) isn’t free; pay it forward by citing FOIA in reporting

As part of our efforts to support improved administration of the federal Freedom of Information Act, we make stories based in part on FOIA easy to find in our “FOIA Files” database. But we’re only able to collect those stories effectively and efficiently when journalists and editors cite FOIA by name, spelled-out or as an acronym, so that the stories turn up when we conduct searches.

While it’s true that allusions to access to “federal records,” and references to documents being “obtained,” can provide hints about the source of the documents, we can only include stories in our database if the reporter indicates that he or she used FOIA. (Reporters: we also take emails at sgi@sunshineingovernment.org.) And the average reader may not realize the role, and value, of FOIA if journalists don’t highlight it. We realize that filing FOIA requests can be frustrating and feel futile, but when those efforts elicit information, we like to focus attention on those stories as examples of the system working, for journalists, FOIA officers, and the public.

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