I listened to a great webinar today called “Finding Data Online,” which was hosted by Jaimi Dowdell, a training director for IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors). She even talked about public records and the Freedom of Information Act, which of course is near and dear to my heart.
I was so impressed with her presentation that I decided to go to IRE’s Web site and find out what kinds of public records & FOIA info they have online. The good news is they have an entire page dedicated to Freedom of Information. The bad news is it’s painfully outdated.
I knew something was wrong when I saw this near the top of the page: “Sunshine Week 2007.” Yikes! OK, I thought, let me click on something else. Right under that was this headline: “BGA/IRE survey examines, ranks state FOI laws.” I clicked on that and found that the survey was published in 2002. Oh gosh.
Surely the “Latest FOI News” section would have some up-to-date info, right? Wrong. Some of the links didn’t work or they took you to old stories. In a last ditch effort, I decided to click on “FOI Award Winners,” but the last winners shown were from 2005.
Please don’t think that I’m bashing IRE. I actually like parts of their Web site, especially the “Extra, Extra” section, which is very up-to-date and features some of the best investigative reporting from around the country. I just wish the FOI section was given the same attention.
If any IRE head honchos are reading this, I’d be happy to help with your public records/FOIA coverage.