Ask any journalist and they’ll tell you the Freedom of Information Act process is broken. Denials are at record highs, navigating the bureaucracy can be a nightmare, and the federal agencies recently killed a modest reform bill. But a series of FOIA lawsuits also have just shown how the 50-year-old transparency law can still be indispensable. And absent any change in the law, the best way for news organizations to make sure it stays relevant is to use it innovatively and aggressively.
A study by Syracuse’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse showed that, with the exception of The New York Times, no legacy news organization sued the government under FOIA in 2014. But where print newspapers have largely faded away, digital-only news organizations—including some that are foolishly caricatured as mere meme generators and gossip mags—are thankfully starting to spend the time and money to fill the gap. Continue>>>