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The Art of Access
Strategies for Acquiring Public Records

Second Edition


256 pages | CQ Press

The Art of Access is a must-have book for any journalism student or professional reporter. It will ensure that a journalist understands the importance of authentic documents to establish the credibility of news stories and how crucial it is to obtain those documents no matter the obstacles public officials may create to prevent access.”
—Brant Houston, University Of Illinois

Whatever you’re trying to learn about the world—as a journalist or as an informed citizen— public records often hold the key. But what records, where? And how to get them? Gaining access to records is an art, one that requires an organized approach and a good understanding of human behavior. The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records, Second Edition is a how-to guide for putting the law into action and using ingenuity to pry records loose. FOI experts and longtime journalists David Cuillier and Charles N. Davis present strategies for dealing with the officials who stand between you and the information you seek. They explore new developments in technology and research and the latest online innovations and tools to help you rethink the information-gathering process and develop a document state of mind.

 
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

“This is a thorough guide in how to grow as a watchdog or investigative journalist.”

Dante Mozie
South Carolina State University

The Art of Access is a must-have book for any journalism student or professional reporter. It will ensure that a journalist understands the importance of authentic documents to establish the credibility of a news stories and how crucial it is to obtain those documents no matter the obstacles public officials may create to prevent access.”

Brant Houston
University Of Illinois

“This text is equally informative and engaging.  The language is clear and wonderfully conversational.  The ideas are practical and the tips very beneficial.  We are reminded just how important it is to hold our politicians and leaders accountable to the people, as well as how mighty the pen can be.”

Ginger Blackstone
Harding University

“We’re are at a time when journalistic credibility is challenged by fake news and media illiteracy. Open government and advanced information gathering practices are the key to a healthy society. This book is the most comprehensive examination of investigative techniques one is likely to find. It is filled with practical tips and insights to truly hold stakeholders accountable.”

William Schulte
Winthrop University
Key features

NEW TO THIS EDITION:

  • 40 additional experts and practitioners offer tips and record ideas for opening new doorways into FOI and open data.
  • The latest online innovations and digital tools for finding and using government data, such as MuckRock, iFOIA and FOIA Mapper, empower students to find data online and acquire it through online platforms.
  • More resources and examples for college students and non-journalists motivate and inspire college students by reading about their successful peers.
  • References to hundreds of new scientific studies discuss experiments that test better ways of requesting records.
  • Infused information about global FOI shows students how to acquire public records across the world and from sovereign American Indian tribes.
  • Research-based psychological strategies are integrated throughout to help students place effective request and overcome illegal denials.
  • A new section on how to sue for public records guide students through the steps they need to take to acquire information legally on their own.
  • Reorganized the popular “Record Album” of cool records in Appendix A by beat topic to make it simple for students to find useful records relevant to his or her interest.
  • New tips on how to make the laws in your state better show students how lobbying and grassroots organization can make a difference in their community.

KEY FEATURES:

  • A “Pro Tips” feature showcases advice from some of the best in the business, from media lawyers and prominent journalists to a private investigator and other access experts.
  • At the end of each chapter, a “Try It!” section offers exercises and story ideas that will empower you to start finding and using documents right away.
  • Appendices include a comprehensive list of online FOI resources as well as an annotated Record Album that guides you A–Z to records on everything from abandoned buildings and air quality to workplace safety and zoning.
  • The authors’ blog includes more records ideas, more resources, and the ability to contact the authors to ask questions if you run into problems.

 


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Paperback
ISBN: 9781506380704
$45.00