Freedom of information laws, which allow citizens to request government records from federal agencies down to local police stations, now exist in roughly 100 countries around the world. In the United States, the Freedom of Information Act, enacted in 1966 and known as FOIA, has long been a pillar of investigative and data journalism.
However, while retrieving government documents and statistics should be as easy as submitting a FOIA request, the system is rarely so simple.
“All of these documents that the government creates, the public has a right to all of them. It’s your data, basically, except in specific instances where there’s exceptions,” said news developer Michael Corey in a recent conference call hosted by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) in Berkeley, Calif. “I think investigative reporters and others who work with FOIA all the time would tell you that that’s... keep reading