Tools for investigative journalists: NARA keeps some JFK documents secret; CIA shows interest in spy pop culture

Freedom of Information and government disclosure often conjure mental images of closed-door meetings and top-secret war documents. However, the government’s tight fist on some older, high-profile documents has piqued public interest.

Kennedy docs kept secret

The government is refusing to disclose some documents related to John F. Kennedy’s assassination, even though almost 50 years have gone by. National Archives and Records Administration houses many documents related to our government’s history.

When NARA posed a question on an open forum to see what it could do to boost transparency, JFK’s assassination came out on top, reports  However, those documents remain hidden from public view. Currently 50,000 documents related to the Kennedy assassination are still classified. David Ferriero, National Archives Chief, said they will likely remain that way until at least 2017. Naturally,  NARA’s refusal to release documents related to the Kennedy assassination has some people asking why.  One reason behind the delay may be attributed to the sheer volume of information:  Ferriero has been tasked with reducing the backlog of more than 400 million records older than 25 years.

Documents available on the the CIA website

Although there is much to lament about government’s lack of transparency, investigative journalists can utilize the information that is already available from government entities, such as these fun finds available at

Whitney is the summer Pulliam/Killgore intern with SPJ. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University after studying journalism. Connect with her via email – –  or on twitter – @whitevs7

*Know something about Freedom of Information that you think we should cover in a blog post? We want to hear from you! Send information to It may be featured in a future post.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Defending the First Amendment and promoting open government are more crucial now than ever. Join SPJ's fight for the public’s right to know — either as an SPJ Supporter or a professional, student or retired journalist.


Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn

© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ