The Freedom of Information Act, passed on July 4, 1966, states that anyone has the right to acquire federal government records as long as they are not withheld from disclosure by one of nine exemptions.
The FOIA allows anyone to request and view information that otherwise would not be seen by the public.
States also have their own versions. The Texas Publication Information Act requires government agencies and institutions supported by tax money to make records available to the public.
As journalists, our duty is to inform the public of the information they need to know; therefore, the FOIA is important for journalists because we frequently face sources who are unwilling to talk or sometimes even lie to keep information from getting out to the public.
For journalists to get the facts straight, it is always best to have a document in hand with all the specifics.
In many cases, journalists prefer a document because it shows the information for what it is rather than a comment from a source who could be lying about the facts or presenting them incorrectly.
Although it is a right for anyone to obtain federal documents, depending on the complexity, the amount of time to receive a response from an agency may vary.
Documents such as contracts are beneficial to a story and can expand further understanding of complex situations.
The Ranger has reported on the new EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, course.
To get a better understanding of the situation, The Ranger requested information on the contract between Franklin Covey and the district and on March 6 printed a copy of an addendum between the two.
A district official provided it without The Ranger having to file an open records request.
By obtaining documentation, we are able to hold people accountable for their actions as well as expose information some would like to keep behind closed doors.