If you think the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is too blunt a tool for reporters covering big breaking stories on deadline, you may want to think again.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), to its credit, has published online a list of the FOIA requests it has received related to the Japanese nuclear meltdown — and in some cases, the records the NRC provided in response.
The result makes fascinating reading on several scores. As a reporter, you may relish a look at what your competitors are doing (or were doing long before you thought of it). As a FOIA requester, you may learn a lot about how to write a FOIA letter that is realistic but still says "give me my due." Reading other people's memos is always interesting, but in this case it may give you some story ideas.
By publishing the list promptly, NRC (far better than many other agencies) lived up to the "reading room" provisions of FOIA — which require agencies to actively publish information likely to be the subject of multiple FOIA requests. The WatchDog thanks plugged-in special librarian Sabrina I. Pacifici for bringing the list to our attention.
- "FOIAs Related to Japan's Emergency," U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.