By David Cuillier | May 24th, 2010
So far: 17 states, 8,495 miles, 35 sessions, 584 people (see schedule)
Washington, D.C. – It’s amazing what you can find in the buried properties of electronic records.
Tip No. 33: Make sure to ask for electronic files in their “native format.” So if they were Word documents, as for copies of the original Word documents. Then check the properties of the file to see who created it, who changed it, when it was changed, etc (on PC, right-click on the file icon and pick “properties,” then look at the various tabs of info). You might find that the file was edited or changed by someone.
In Arizona the state Supreme Court ruled that the embedded information in electronic files are part of the records so they are subject to the public records law just like other parts of the recorded record. If an agency says it doesn’t have to provide you the “meta-data” then you probably will have a good chance of challenging and winning.
Power of preaching: Some kind words from Michael Koretzky to the SPJ board in an e-mail following the stop in South Florida last week:
… Dave drove into South Florida Thursday night and completely kicked ass … this wasn’t a dry recitation of how to acquire arcane documents. Dave psyched up and out those journalists.
One of my students even emailed me well after midnight that he was “up late on an FOI buzz,” researching a whole bunch of crap online that he learned from Dave four hours earlier. And he found two story ideas he’s already pursuing.
Dave Cuillier doesn’t just give a lecture, he delivers a call to arms. He explicitly shows what you can do with those damning documents you unearth, and he ends with an impassioned, damn-the-torpedos exhortation. The high-tech clickers are cool, too.
Now, I don’t post this to brag, but rather to show the power of some FOI evangelism. I’m hoping we can continue this sort of programming for journalists and citizens for years to come. And I’m looking forward to the last three weeks of this tour!
Monday: Today (Sunday) I drove to Washington, D.C., in preparation for a session with the SPJ DC chapter Monday night. It’s fun to be in D.C. – what a place of history. I love seeing the original Bill of Rights – the original First Amendment. Beautiful words:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.