Getting to Disclosure: SPJ Offers FOIA Negotiating Tips

February 10, 2010

Reporters who file Freedom of Information Act Requests often expect delay or denial, unfortunately. But new advice from the Society of Professional Journalists counsels that effective negotiating techniques can help reporters move from defeatism to successful disclosure.

David Cuillier, who chairs SPJ's Freedom of Information Committee, penned a piece in the FOI Toolbox department of Online Quill on FOIA negotiating tactics. He interviewed William Ury, co-founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation and co-author of “Getting to Yes.” Ury had some clear and simple tips for journalists.

He expands on these top five tips and more:

  1. Argue interests, not positions
  2. Separate people from the request
  3. Apply negotiations jujitsu
  4. Give them an out
  5. Listen