|(01 Dec 2016)
Just how active is the news media in taking federal agencies to court when they don't promptly turn over the records being sought?
Hard data to reliably answer this question has been extremely limited. FOIAproject.org today announces an ambitious initiative aimed at filling this void.
Starting with the case-by case records on virtually every FOIA suit now available on FOIAproject.org, the project team examined and classified each of nearly nine thousand individual names of plaintiffs for cases filed in federal district court since the beginning of FY 2001.
The result is what we have dubbed "The News Media List" now available at:
This never-before available interactive tool not only identifies each media organization and reporter, but also provides direct access to a variety of details about every case. For more recent cases, a useful synopsis is given, along with descriptors of the specific issues involved. Click on a "case detail" link to pull up the court docket, the actual complaint and court opinions (where available), and an up-to-date listing of the events and proceedings that have taken place.
To see who the most active FOIA media filers are, using this interactive tool you can sort by media name, or by time period and media category. Look for forthcoming focused follow-up reports, including one covering what these initial data reveal about media lawsuits during the Obama versus Bush administrations.
This list contains the names of 369 reporters and news organizations we have been able to identify so far. Our work continues examining the individual complaints to double check whether we have missed or misclassified anyone. We are publishing this initial list now to encourage others to contribute to this effort. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the names of anyone we missed, and let us know if we have made any errors.
We aim to keep this list regularly updated as new cases are filed by reporters and media organizations. We also hope to extend this initiative to systematically track other categories of FOIA requesters such as scholars, commercial requesters, advocacy organizations, and more. Please help make this possible through your donation. The TRAC Gift Fund has been set up through the Newhouse School at Syracuse University to support this effort: