FOIA Friday Takes Hold on SEJ Listserve

February 13, 2008

The latest fad on SEJ's members-only listserve is "FOIA Friday." Every Friday, members try to submit at least one Freedom of Information Act request to a government agency on a subject they think will make a good news story. Then they share (and brag) with their colleagues on the list, who may try to top them.

The informal "wildcat" movement took hold a few weeks ago. SEJ's "SEJ-Talk" e-mail discussion list is open to SEJ members only, and messages on it are kept strictly private.

Although its true origins may be lost in the mists of time, major credit for the idea has been attributed to Seth Borenstein at the Associated Press, as well as Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette. The term "FOIA Friday" originally referred only to the first Friday of each month, but FOIA-bragging has begun breaking out spontaneously every Friday. Only to be followed by FOIA one-upsmanship.

It's another good reason to join SEJ.