Freedom of Information Workshop Recap

Matt Topic, BGA outside counsel, presents to the workshop attendees. (photo/Emily Brosious)

Matt Topic, BGA outside counsel, presents to the workshop attendees. (photo/Emily Brosious)

DePaul students and members of the Chicago community joined us and the Better Government Association (BGA) last Wednesday to learn about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and how to use it for reporting. Attorney Matt Topic explained what the FOIA covers, what it doesn’t, and how to file a request with government agencies. He also shared steps for appealing a denied request.

Freedom of Information Request Workshop

You’ve probably heard of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but do you know how to file a request?

“The FOIA has compelled federal agencies to yield millions of documents relating to government operations and performance,” according to SPJ’s website. “Every week, a news organization, scholar or public-interest group somewhere reports information of significance to public health or safety or good governance — based on material gleaned from FOIA requests.”

Join SPJ/ONA DePaul for a FOIA workshop with the Better Government Association. This event is free and open to both members and non-members.

  • When: Wednesday, Jan. 21, 4 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room 1128

Email us at with questions or concerns. See you soon!FOIA Workshop

SPJ DePaul Freedom of Information Video

As part of its Freedom of Information program, SPJ DePaul produced a video about FOIA tips from the 2012 Excellence in Journalism conference in Ft. Lauderdale. The students interviewed veteran journalists and professors about overcoming challenges in filing FOIAs.

For more SPJ DePaul videos, visit our YouTube channel.

For more FOIA tools, visit The Journalist’s Toolbox public records page.

More discussion of FOIA news and tips on SPJ’s FOI FYI blog.

SPJ DePaul Freedom of Information Forum Panel Offers Investigative Tips

SPJ FOIA Panel Photo

Moderator Anne Kavanaugh (left) and panelists prepare for the discussion.

SPJ DePaul’s Freedom of Information Panel discussion on Thursday offered tips on using FOIA requests and insight to how investigative journalists work.

The two-hour panel, moderated by DePaul adjunct journalism instructor and former TV news reporter Anne Kavanaugh, featured panelists Tim Novak and Chris Fusco of the Chicago Sun-Times and Mick Dumke of the Chicago Reader. The free event drew nearly 50 people to the basement theater at DePaul’s Daley Building, 14 E. Jackson Blvd.

Miss the event? Craig Newman of the Chicago Sun-Times archived live-tweets and background in a Storify.