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  • FOIA and Finding Data

    FOIA and Finding Data


    Video: How to Use FOIA – Tips from the Washington Post

    50-Plus Public Records Requests to Make Now
    MediaFest 22 presentation and tips from Todd Wallack of WBUR in Boston.

    GIJN: Unlocking Laws to Set Information Free: GIJN’s Global Guide to FOI and RTI


    Google Dataset Search
    Search for data in this Google search tool.
    One of the largest federal #FOIA portals.

    US Local Data Portals
    This Github account lists dozens of portals.
    A list of nearly 600 data portals from around the world.

    Better Data Portals
    Keyword search across data sets for Socrata data portals

    Our World in Data
    Datasets and charts on nearly 300 different topics from around the world.

    Portal of studies and research for data viz.

    USA Facts
    Hundreds of government-generated data and fact sheets about many issues: crime, business, public safety, etc.
    There are thousands of datasets from financial market data and population growth to cryptocurrency prices. If you don’t find what you are looking for ask the Data Concierge for a free quote to find the data for you.

    990 Finder
    The Foundation Center and GuideStar combine their data so journalists can find the most recent Forms 990s from charities and foundations.

    Tableau: Datasets for Students
    Links to dozens of datasets on many topics. Good for any reporter.

    Whatcha_got (Github Repo)
    A command line tool that lets you do keyword searches of public data portals without knowing which data sets are available or what fields they contain. For example, you could search Chicago’s data portal for the address of a business and the name of its owner, and get results from inspections, lobbyist records, contracts, etc. It accepts multiple keywords and removes duplicate records. You could then run the same search on a different city/state/entity as long as they also use Socrata.

    The Humanitarian Data Exchange
    An open-source data portal containing more than 20,000 datasets. Show caution and vett the data you find here as it is open source. Many are posted by nonprofits and special-interest groups, which are clearly marked and have information available about them.

    Stacker Data Drops
    Stacker is a data journalism newswire that provides evergreen and feature journalism to the world’s publishers. On a monthly basis, we share the data behind some of our stories to help empower journalists to tell stories relevant to their communities.

    Open Addresses
    Community-hosted data on Github. Street names, house numbers and postal codes, when combined with geographic coordinates, are the hub that connects digital to physical places. It’s crowdsourced, so fact-check the data.

    Google Public Data Explorer

    Datasets Every Government Reporter Should Have

    ProgrammableWeb: API Directory
    Search the largest API directory on the web.

    Africa Data Hub

    A data portal full of public spreadsheets and documents. Nothing is verified so approach with caution.

    50-Plus Public Records Requests to Make Now
    MediaFest 22 presentation and tips from Todd Wallack of WBUR in Boston.

    US Department of Education Civil Rights Data
    Tracks demographics data from US public schools in the US.

    Humanitarian Data Exchange
    Over 20,000 open-source datasets on topics such as education, natural disasters, etc.

    For more training videos, visit our YouTube page. Open Knowledge Foundation
    Lists of about 600 data portals.




    The FOIA Machine
    Automate your FOIA requests.

    Amazon 990 Filings
    Machine-readable data from certain electronic 990 forms filed with the IRS from 2011 to present are available for anyone to use via Amazon S3.

    RCFP Open Government Guide

    Great collection of state-by-state resources from The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

    SPJ: FOI Step-by-Step Guides

    FOIA Mail
    Send hundreds of similar FOIA requests and organize the responses all using the Google suite.

    Video: How to Use FOIA – Tips from the Washington Post
    Deduplicate and find matches in your Excel spreadsheet or database.
    From the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, this is a one-stop management tool for public-records projects and filing FOIA requests.

    Department of Justice FOIA Page

    Division I College Sports FOIA Directory – The Intercollegiate
    List of PIOs for each Division I athletic department.

    SPLC: FOIA Letter Generator
    Great for generating requests with this form. Also has a FERPA letter generator.

    RTI Rating
    Ranks freedom of information laws around the world.
    Provides electronic copies of thousands of interesting Federal Government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Fascinating historical documents, reports on items in the news, oddities and fun stuff and government bloopers, they’re all here.

    FOIA Wiki
    Launched in October 2016 in Beta, this offers a page of tools, links and resources on using FOIA.

    WRAL: How to Submit a Public Records Request Like a Pro

    FOIA 101
    Slideshow of tips from Jared Rutecki, investigative reporter from Better Government Association in Chicago. Federal FOIA Requests

    MuckRock: State-by-State Public Records Laws

    FOIA Wiki: FOIA Basics
    A good primer for newbies.

    FOIA Predictor
    Use this browser app to predict success of your FOIA request.

    Tips and tools for making successful FOIA requests.

    GIJN: Unlocking Laws to Set Information Free: GIJN’s Global Guide to FOI and RTI

    This free and collaborative resource on the U.S. Freedom of Information Act is provided by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, with contributions from The FOIA Project at TRAC, MuckRock, The National Security Archive, FOIA Mapper, Open the Government, and users. Remember to double-check anything you find here as anyone can edit the Wiki.

    From its site: “MuckRock makes it easy file Freedom of Information requests, taking out the hassle and only updating you with the results. No need to stamp an envelope, look up an agency address or learn how to properly draft a legal demand: Just type what you’re interested in, click submit and then receive your documents scanned, searchable and sharable. We’ll even help you analyze them.”

    GIJN: FOIA Laws
    FOIA laws from more than 100 countries.

    Extra Points FOIA Directory
    A collection of college athletics related open records (contracts, budgets etc), free for everybody, acquired via FOIA. Others can contribute as well.

    MuckRock: FOIA 101 Guides

    Global Right to Information Rating

    Gov Book: FOIA Contacts in Chicago
    List of contacts curated by The Chicago Reporter.

    MuckRock: Guide to State Public Records Laws

    FOIAFest 2018 Resources
    Links, handouts, tools and more from the Chicago FOIAFest event.

    National Security Archive
    Combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents.

    The FOIA Project
    Its goal: provide the public with timely and complete information about every instance in which the federal government grants or withholds records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

    DePaul University: FOIA Resources for Journalists
    How to file a FOIA and state FOIA laws.

    The Associated Press and Freedom of Information
    Provides journalists with a simpler way to access 2010 Census data.

    Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Guides
    Resources on public documents, First Amendment, privacy and more.

    National FOI Coalition

    Society of Professional Journalists: Freedom of Information Resources

    ACLU Free Speech Resources

    The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information

    National Security Archive: Freedom of Information Act Resources
    From George Washington University.

    FOIA Illinois
    Blog and resources for filing FOIAs. Twitter handle is @foiaillinois.

    U.S. Department of Justice Freedom of Information Act Information

    ProPublica: How Much Stimulus Money is Your County Receiving?

    Student Press Law Center: FOIA Letter Generator
    Just fill in the blanks.

    FIRE: Guide to Free Speech on Campus
    Book/ebook from the Foundation of Individual Rights on Campus.

    Investigative Dashboard
    A treasure drove of research and public records tools, both U.S. and abroad.

    Washington Post Training Videos: How to be a Journalist
    Series of videos on basics of reporting, FOIAs and more.

    FOIA Shaming
    A fantastic Tumblr blog that shines a spotlight on universities that stonewall FOIA requests. Share it on social media.

    The FOI Advocate

    No One Uses Email Anymore
    A great slideshow of tips from an IRE 19 panel on how government officials are using private chat apps to communicate rather than email. Makes it harder to FOIA and track those discussions.


    Sunshine Week
    Official site for the mid-March celebration. Resources galore.

    SPJ Sunshine Week Resources
    FOI activities for chapters, classrooms and more.

    U.S. Census: Sunshine Week

    Sunshine Week on Twitter

    Sunshine Week Facebook Page


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