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Related Articles:
Freedom of Information

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SPJ News: SPJ Legal Defense Fund Roundup – October 2016
Quill: Journalists, Let’s Not Get Checkmated
SPJ News: SPJ joins 14 other journalism orgs to ask Trump to commit to protective press pool for transparency
Quill: Shield Laws and Journalist’s Privilege: Basics Every Journalist Should Know
Quill: Ten with Marty Baron
SPJ News: SPJ President Walsh statement on journalism and the election
SPJ News: SPJ Legal Defense Fund Roundup – August 2016
SPJ News: Cuillier receives SPJ's highest honor, the Wells Memorial Key
SPJ News: Journalists ask Anderson Cooper, Martha Raddatz to include question about open government in presidential debate
SPJ News: Lynn Walsh installed as 2016-17 SPJ President


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Your Right to Know
Find FOI in your state

Get in touch with the Sunshine chair or chairs in your state and find FOI Centers, quotable sources, resources and more by using the menu below.

Freedom of Information
About/History
News/Articles
Covering Prisons
Project Sunshine: Find FOI Help
Accessing Government Records
Shield Law Campaign
FOI Audit Tookit | PDF
Anti-SLAPP: Protect Free Speech
Official Secrets Act bill
FOI Groups
Annual FOI Reports
FOI Committee Roster
GovernmentAttic.org

FOI FYI: SPJ’s FOI Committee Blog
– If You Sue Trump, This DC Lawyer Will Help You For Free
– Hear It from a Journocriminal
– Jailing of the Press

FOI Committee
This committee is the watchdog of press freedoms across the nation. It relies upon a network of volunteers in each state organized under Project Sunshine. These SPJ members are on the front lines for assaults to the First Amendment and when lawmakers attempt to restrict the public's access to documents and the government's business. The committee often is called upon to intervene in instances where the media is restricted.

Freedom of Information Committee Chair

Gideon Grudo
Digital Platforms Editor
Air Force Magazine
E-mail
@ggrudo
Bio (click to expand) picture Grudo is currently the digital platforms editor at Air Force Magazine, a DC-based, independent monthly. He was previously on the board of SPJ DC and on the national SPJ board. Before moving to DC in 2013, Grudo was editor of South Florida Gay News and worked on the board of SPJ Florida, spearheading multiple programs on a national level and helping run related conventions.



FOI Committee Members

Sonny Albarado

Carolyn Carlson

Jodi Cleesattle

David Cuillier

Anna Douglas

Roy Gutterman

JM Farrell

Paul Fletcher

Kathryn Foxhall

Danielle McLean

Hilary Niles

Jonathan Peters

Linda Petersen

Joey Senat

Home > Freedom of Information > FOI for students: A step-by-step guide

FOI for students:
A step-by-step guide

The Society of Professional Journalists seeks to maintain constant vigilance in protecting the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and of the press and encouraging a climate in which journalism can be practiced freely. If you're unfamiliar with FOI laws, need help submitting a records request or simply don't know where to start, this guide can help.


Know before you go

Just what does the FOI law say?

Read the complete text of the Freedom of Information Act here. [nfoic.org]

What does it mean?

Federal Open Government Guide [rcfp.org]: Reporting can be greatly enhanced through use of FOIA, FACA and the Sunshine Act — and that starts with understanding how each law works.

What is your state law?

The Open Government Guide from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has a complete compendium of information on every state's open records and open meetings laws. View each state's laws individually, or compare multiple states with yours. [rcfp.org]


Write a records request

Letter generators

State Open Records Law Request Letter Generator [splc.org]
FOIA Letter Generator [rcfp.org]


What if they say they can’t give it to you because of FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Read the complete text of FERPA here. [ed.gov]

SPJ’s Reporter’s Guide to FERPA

Ever have a tough time getting public records from schools or universities? We feel your pain and are here to help you. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act has been twisted beyond recognition, keeping school lunch menus, graduation honors and athletic travel records secret. Take back your right to information.


SPJ on Demand video: Handling a denial

Don't be bullied by gatekeepers. Recognize the most typical denials to watch for and the best tactics for dealing with agencies that choose to violate the law. You'll also learn about resourceful tips for reducing or eliminating copy fees. Watch in: Flash | HTML5 (SPJ membership required to see On Demand videos.)


Does all this stuff not make sense?

Legal Advice

Talk to a real person who can answer real questions at the Student Press Law Center:

Know Your Rights
Virtual Lawyer
SPLC Legal Request Form

Harassed/Arrested?

The Society's Legal Defense Fund is a unique account that can be tapped for providing journalists with legal or direct financial assistance. Application to the fund is approved by either a small committee or the national board, depending on the level of assistance sought. The committee works throughout the year raising funds for LDF. Learn more about LDF by following this link.


Additional free resources

SPJ FOI Toolkit

FOI Audits are a great way to monitor FOI compliance, build a group of journalists who have come up close and personal with FOI laws and demonstrate, once and for all, the weaknesses in state FOI laws. We've compiled everything you need to get started: training, do's and don'ts, document ideas for your requests and lots more.

Find FOI in your state

Get in touch with the Sunshine chair or chairs in your state and find FOI Centers, quotable sources, state FOI hotlines and more.

Open Doors: A guide to accessing government records

What would our profession do without the ability to access information held by government agencies? What would we do without state and federal Freedom of Information laws? SPJ's Open Doors project is a comprehensive guide not only to the Freedom of Information Act, but also to freedom of information in general and how it applies to your work and even your life.

SPJ pro and student chapters in your state:

SPJ's lengthy roster of chapters provide its backbone. The local chapter is the conduit SPJ members require to learn about events in their local journalism community as well as positions that journalists are taking nationwide on topics such as Freedom of Information and First Amendment rights. Locate, participate in and develop a chapter here.

Your Right To Federal records [publications.usa.gov]

A further explanation of the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act and how to use them.

SPJ eCampus: Acquiring Records

These video training sessions are available to all SPJ members at any time and are included as part of your SPJ membership.

— 10 Must-Have Documents: Flash | HTML5
— Learning FOI Law: Flash | HTML5
— Effective Requests: Flash | HTML5
— Overcoming Denials: Flash | HTML5
— Dealing with Data: Flash | HTML5


Tell us what you think about this page

We want to know so we can make it better for you. Please email SPJ FOI Committee Chair Linda Petersen with any questions or thoughts.

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Related Articles:
Freedom of Information

See archive for more articles

SPJ News: SPJ Legal Defense Fund Roundup – October 2016
Quill: Journalists, Let’s Not Get Checkmated
SPJ News: SPJ joins 14 other journalism orgs to ask Trump to commit to protective press pool for transparency
Quill: Shield Laws and Journalist’s Privilege: Basics Every Journalist Should Know
Quill: Ten with Marty Baron
SPJ News: SPJ President Walsh statement on journalism and the election
SPJ News: SPJ Legal Defense Fund Roundup – August 2016
SPJ News: Cuillier receives SPJ's highest honor, the Wells Memorial Key
SPJ News: Journalists ask Anderson Cooper, Martha Raddatz to include question about open government in presidential debate
SPJ News: Lynn Walsh installed as 2016-17 SPJ President


Your Right to Know
Find FOI in your state

Get in touch with the Sunshine chair or chairs in your state and find FOI Centers, quotable sources, resources and more by using the menu below.

Freedom of Information
About/History
News/Articles
Covering Prisons
Project Sunshine: Find FOI Help
Accessing Government Records
Shield Law Campaign
FOI Audit Tookit | PDF
Anti-SLAPP: Protect Free Speech
Official Secrets Act bill
FOI Groups
Annual FOI Reports
FOI Committee Roster
GovernmentAttic.org

FOI FYI: SPJ’s FOI Committee Blog
– If You Sue Trump, This DC Lawyer Will Help You For Free
– Hear It from a Journocriminal
– Jailing of the Press

FOI Committee
This committee is the watchdog of press freedoms across the nation. It relies upon a network of volunteers in each state organized under Project Sunshine. These SPJ members are on the front lines for assaults to the First Amendment and when lawmakers attempt to restrict the public's access to documents and the government's business. The committee often is called upon to intervene in instances where the media is restricted.
 

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