February 24th, 2010
New book: The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records
By David Cuillier
WARNING – conflict of interest coming up! I’m about to plug a book that Charles Davis and I came out with this week. But I think it might be of interest to people who read this blog. It’s called “The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records,” by CQ Press (a division of Sage, $21.95, paperback, 236 pages, http://www.cqpress.com/product/Art-of-Access-Strategies.html).
We really loved doing this book, interviewing more than 70 experts (Woodward/Bernstein, Helen Thomas, Brant Houston, Steve Doig, Pete Weitzel, the new federal FOIA ombudsman, etc.) and pooling together our experience and knowledge of practical tips for acquiring public records. All that stuff we teach in our classes, in SPJ training sessions, and talk about with reporters daily. We hope it will help others to get fired up about access and be more effective in getting what they need. We have chapters on learning the law, finding records, effective requests, overcoming denials, dealing with data, understanding officials’ perspectives, and writing about FOI and FOI ethics. We think it can be a good supplementary textbook for reporting courses, or a deskguide for working journalists. We hope it can help citizens and others, too. Check out a companion blog for the book at www.theartofaccess.com.
We don’t plan to make a killing on the book – it’s not about the money ($1 each per book). But we do hope it spreads the gospel of FOI, good governance and an empowered electorate. Charles, a former SPJ FOI Committee chair, and myself (as current chair), can’t thank SPJ enough for its continued strong support of FOI issues. This organization is dedicated to good journalism – making the world a better place – and it feels good to be a part.