Faster than FOIA — Public records you can find online

Need to verify the rank of a dead veteran? Wondering about access to New York criminal records? Trying to find the maiden name of a twice-married woman? For journalists, knowing where to look – without waiting on a public information request response – is key. 

Award-winning investigator Caryn Baird presented a practical working model of public records research based on her years of experience at the Tampa Bay Times.

Baird is a researcher for Politifact and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. For more than 24 years, she has verified people, places and events before the story is written. She has research credit on five Pulitzer winners, two finalists, and several other award-winning stories. She is a native New Yorker with a bachelor of arts from Wellesley College and a master of science in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. 

Topics discussed: 

  • A working knowledge of public records that exist online and where to find them
  • Strategies for efficient independent public record searches
  • Guidance on practical searches for more common fact-checks 

Contact: Beth Francesco, executive director of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, [email protected].

About the Institute

The National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire a more representative democracy. As the non-profit affiliate of the National Press Club, the Institute powers journalism in the public interest.

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