FOIA as a last resort: Getting public information through the front door

As a reporter, filing a Freedom of Information Act request should be your last resort. The  government documents you need may be hiding in plain sight. Whether you’re a Washington policy writer, a regional reporter or a local journalist covering a beat, this workshop from accomplished reporters will show you how to get the government records you always wanted but weren’t quite sure how to find. This session took place on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the National Press Club.

About the Instructors

Tara Coppnational military and veterans correspondent at McClatchy, has been an astute observer of the military both as a journalist and as an analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She has covered the Pentagon for a number of publications, including Stars and Stripes and the Washington Examiner and is the author of the award winning military nonfiction book, “The Warbird — Three Heroes, Two Wars, One Story.”

Alex Mann, crime and courts reporter for the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, has pursued the case involving the 2018 murders of five people in the Capital Gazette newsroom. Mann found that scores of  documents had been closed without any court order or public notice as lawyers were taking advantage of a loophole in electronic record filings. Mann will discuss how to use court records to keep abreast of a running story, how to discover new ones, and how to question any record that is declared confidential.

Jerry Zremski, Washington Bureau Chief for the Buffalo News, will share tactics from his dogged coverage of Rep. Chris Collins’ investments, which led him to a pump-and-dump scheme that caught the attention of federal prosecutors. Last month, Collins was sentenced to 26 months in prison for insider trading. Zremski will describe how he uses available public records to connect dots and track the work of the congressional delegation he covers for his readers.

Slides from the presentation are available here: FOIA As a Last Resort

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