By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group
I recently had to make my first Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in more than 15 years for a blog post I was working on. I remember my first one being a very laborious affair, making sure I had the correct language and double checking that it was being sent to the right person at the right address. It took time, but the process worked.
This time around, I did a Google search — FOIA request. The fourth entry returned was pay dirt for me — the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. You click a few boxes, add some words and presto — you have a perfectly formatted FOIA request, including email links and the proper snail mail address. The service is free, but donations are appreciated. I received my reply, amazingly enough, within the 20-day window required under the act.
The Society of Professional Journalists Networked blog also did a post — Tech tools to help you keep up with your FOIA requests. It suggests using tools including Google Docs, wikis and the note taking site Evernote to write and keep track of your FOIA requests.
Have you done a FOIA request lately? How did you do it? What were the results?