|(13 Jan 2021)
In 2020, news organizations and individual reporters filed 122 different Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits to compel disclosure of federal government records—more than any year on record according to federal court data back to 2001 analyzed by the FOIA Project. In fact, the media alone have filed a total of 386 FOIA cases during the four years of the Trump Administration, from 2017 through 2020.
This is greater than the total of 311 FOIA media cases filed during the sixteen years of the Bush and Obama Administrations combined.
This report focuses on news media "FOIA litigants" (a.k.a. "FOIA plaintiffs"). These include both traditional news organizations and alternative news sources when their primary purpose is to be a news source. The FOIA Project's analysis found that since January 1, 2001, the news media has filed a total of 697 separate FOIA cases in federal court. Looking at these cases reveals 374 distinct plaintiffs, 117 news organizations and 257 individual reporters.
A few key FOIA litigators rise to the top. The top ten filers make up less than three percent of all plaintiffs, yet they accounted for 281 of the 697 FOIA cases-40 percent of the total suits filed. To view the list of 'Top 10' FOIA litigators as well as a more expansive list of rising stars in the FOIA litigation community, view the FOIA Project's full report at the link below.
Using the FOIA Project's unique dataset of FOIA cases filed in federal court, this report provides unprecedented and valuable insight into the rapid growth of media lawsuits designed to make the government more transparent and accountable to the public. The complete, updated list of news media cases, along with the names of organizations and reporters who filed these suits, is available on the News Media List at FOIAProject.org.
To read the full report, go to:
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The FOIA Project is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants and individual contributions. The TRAC Gift Fund has been set up through the Newhouse School at Syracuse University to support this effort: