Investigative journalism is hardly about paper documents anymore — and that is a big challenge. The digital challenge was front and center at the recent meeting of the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC).
The cutting edge today is more likely to be requests for emails, even on private accounts. Just ask Hillary Clinton. But it doesn't stop there — text messages, chats, and other electronic communications, the courts have ruled, are valid targets for public records requests if they involve public business.
The issues multiply. Does the Freedom of Information Act cover messages on Slack, a group instant messaging platform that essentially lives in the cloud? How about Slack imitators?
- "2016 FOI Summit Concludes — Challenges to Public Records Access in a Digital Age Among Top Issues," National Freedom of Information Coalition, Release of October 10, 2016.
- "As Government Records Move from Paper to Email to Channels Like Slack, How Should FOIA Keep Up?" NiemanLab, September 30, 2016, by Shan Wang.
- "Are Slack Messages Subject to FOIA Requests?" Atlantic, January 27, 2016, by Kaveh Waddell.