FOIA Advisor

Advice from Poynter: Running into a brick wall with your FOIA request? Take it public

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

Running into a brick wall with your FOIA request? Take it public

By Kelly Hinchcliffe, Poynter, May 4, 2016

When I’m having trouble getting public records from a government agency, I’ll often turn to my colleagues for advice or just to vent. But sometimes, you need to take your struggle public.

That’s what New York City reporter Joaquin Sapien did last month. After spending nearly a year trying to get records from the city and exchanging more than 50 emails with a freedom of information officer, he finally had enough.

On April 21, he posted a story on ProPublica with a headline that captured his frustration: “Foiled by FOIL: How One City Agency Has Dragged Out a Request for Public Records for Nearly a Year.”

Sapien allowed readers to experience his frustration by including screenshots of emails he exchanged with the freedom of information officer, showing that she promised to deliver the records eight different times. Each time the promised delivery date rolled around, she had a new excuse and a new date that the records would be ready.

Read more here.