The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press released iFOIA last week at the Online News Association conference. It’s a great tool for reporters doing investigative work, but also for the general public.
The app makes everything about FOIA requests much easier — you can generate requests, track them, set reminders, file an appeal or a Vaughn motion, and even scan in any offline communication.
Emily Grannis, a Jack Nelson FOI Legal Fellow at the Reporter’s Committee was pleased with the reponses at ONA from reporters, but also legal teams.
Reporters for sure, [are] very excited that there’s this organizational tool and an improved version of our letter generator. But also the legal teams and lawyers that work with reporters. Reporters can add collaborators. So it’s all private unless you decide to share it, and then the whole team can look at the request. And if you get into a situation where you’re appealing a request, you can bring a lawyer in, too, and they can see all of the communication.
It makes everyone’s life easier. Grannis notes that reporters who have been doing investigative work for years always knew how to work the state and federal systems, but also knew the ‘pitfalls,’ as she puts it. “So that’s what we focused on. What reporters needed to streamline the process.”
The project was funded by a grant from the Stanton Foundation, who has also worked with the Reporter’s Committee on other digital resources such as the FirstAid mobile application. The Reporters Committee offers many resources for journos, including legal advice, rapid response to inquiries on media law stories, and regional training seminars for reporters, among many others.
Have you started submitting FOI requests yet?