Everything You Need to Know about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Austin Kocher, PhD
2 min readMar 25, 2021

I had the pleasure recently to host a panel discussion with three of the top Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) experts in the country: Kimbriell Kelly, currently Washington Bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times; Jason Leopold, an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed; and David McCraw, deputy general counsel for the New York Times.

The panel event “The Public Has a Right to Know” was hosted in partnership with the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), where I work as a researcher, and the Newhouse School of Public Communications. The turnout was amazing. We had more than 600 people register for the event to learn about practical ways that journalists are using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to support investigative journalism. The event was held during Sunshine Week, an annual initiative to promote open government.

The discussion included lots of great stories about how the panelists first got involved with using FOIA requests and litigation to support investigative journalism as well as tips on FOIA strategy that you won’t hear anywhere else. We published a report about the event titled “TRAC’s FOIA Panel Attracts a Large Audience Interested in Government Transparency” and we have been able to make a video of the event public through the YouTube channel for the Newhouse School of Journalism. I hope you find this resource valuable.

Austin Kocher, PhD

I study America’s immigration enforcement system. Assistant Professor at TRAC. Graduate of OSU Geography. Online at austinkocher.com.