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The Art of Access

The Art of Access
Strategies for Acquiring Public Records

Second Edition

July 2019 | 224 pages | CQ Press
1. Records that matter: Improve your community, career and life
Make the world better  
Advance your career  
Improve your personal life  
Develop a new way of thinking  
Try it!  
Suggested links  
2. Develop a document state of mind
Take charge  
Exercise your document muscles  
Find inspiration and support  
Try it!  
Suggested links  
3. Become an access law expert
Master the law in five steps  
Dip into alphabet laws  
Access public meetings  
Tap into legal resources  
Try it!  
Suggested links  
4. The hunt: Find records in the dark
Explore document habitats  
Find records in records  
Build on others’ successes  
Try it!  
Suggested links  
5. Strategies for effective requests
Get in the zone  
Get personal  
Write effective letters  
Cut denials off at the pass  
Apply hard tactics if necessary  
Try it!  
Suggested links  
6. How to overcome denials
Understand the nature of ‘no’  
Respond to common denials  
If the agency says...  
Play hardball  
Take them to court  
Try it!  
Suggested links  
7. Going digital: Strategies for getting data
Become familiar with data  
Get the database  
Counter cyber-denials  
Teach yourself database journalism  
Try it!  
Suggested links  
8. Understand how public officials think
Comprehend bureaucratic culture  
Identify agency constraints  
Help them help you  
Try it!  
Suggested links  
9. Putting it together: Writing, ethics and paying it forward
Create great record-based stories  
Do the right thing: FOI ethics  
Anticipate public reaction  
Write about FOI  
Become an FOI warrior  
Try it!  
Suggested links  
Appendix A. The Record Album
Appendix B. FOI resources

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