Career Development : Calendar

FOI and Public Records Workshop: Smart Tips for Journalists

10/15/09     San Francisco, CA

In these times of shrinking budgets and staff, reporters are more challenged than ever to get the information – especially public information – they need for thorough stories. What changes – if any – have occurred under the Obama Administration that make it easier to have requests for documents honored in a timely manner?  Speakers at this San Francisco Bay Area chapter event will provide background, examples, and smart strategies on these topics:  

  • How FOI has changed (if it has) from the Bush to Obama administrations, examples of recent lawsuits, and how to navigate FOI hurdles.

  • How the California Public Records Act has changed in the last year, examples of what precipitated legal action, how to make requests, and what to if you get no response or have difficulty getting records.

  • What a reporter can do to translate hundreds of thousands of records into a digestible and comprehensive database.

The panel

Marcia Hoffman is a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She works on government transparency, civil liberties, and intellectual property issues and co-established EFF's FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government (FLAG) Project. Documents made public though her work have been reported by the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, Fox News, and CNN, among others.

Michael Risher is a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, where he handles a wide range of cases involving freedom of expression, open government, criminal justice, and other civil liberties issues. 

Philip Reese is a reporter on the projects and investigations team of the Sacramento Bee. He specializes in data analysis and has been with The Bee for five years. After reviewing hundreds of thousands of records, Reese figured out a way to develop a comprehensible database on emergency room visits to hospitals.

The panel will be moderated by health care reporter Laurie Udesky, whose articles and multimedia pieces on health and public policy have appeared in The Lancet,, and on Consumer Health Interactive, among other news outlets. She has won national and regional awards for her work.

Thursday, Oct. 15, 6-8 p.m.

San Francisco Chronicle
newspaper offices
100  Fifth Street
San Francisco
Accessible via BART (Powell St. station) and car (parking garages nearby)

$5 for SPJ and AHCJ members; $7 for nonmembers

Please RSVP to so we know how much seating to set up. Light refreshments will be served.

We have a November event in the works – stay tuned for details soon.