State-level stories that made an impact

State-level stories that made an impact

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Transparency begins at home - all across the country, journalists are using state public records laws to hold agencies accountable.

  • After a request from Vanessa Nason revealed the extent of Juneau, Alaska’s backlog of untested rape kits, the state earmarked $2.75 million to test kits all over the state.

Example Requests: Rape kit backlogs

  • Over 500 use of police force reports released to NJ Advance Media were used to create the New Jersey’s first comprehensive database of law enforcement violence.

Example Requests: Use of force reports

  • College football concussion reports released to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution show a huge variance in the number of incidents reported - and that many schools don’t track the data at all.

Example Requests: College football contacts

  • A copy of the Chicago Police Department’s “gang database” released to the Chicago Tribune revealed over 128,000 people listed as gang members, with some alleged members being well into their 80s.

Example Requests: Gang validations

  • Over 200 requests filed by MuckRock related to #AmazonHQ2 bids reveal millions in tax incentives offered to the company, as well as an hostility to public oversight of the process.

Example Requests: Amazon HQ2 Bids/proposals

But public records aren’t just for investigative journalists. Anyone can take advantage of these powerful tools for transparency. Visit to see a random idea from our new database of public records requests that have worked — and sample text you can use to file similar requests in your community.

Heavy-hitting national reporting

Light-hearted looks into the federal government

Local reporting on the lighter side

Check out our new site for FOIA Inspiration

Image via U.S. National Archives Flickr