Why all the fundraising costs?
I’ve been curious why Muckrock requires so much to raise money for releases. I understand raising money for the time and work that the Muckstaff do, which is probably the most important work on the planet. But the FBI “costs” should be 0. I’ve been making FOIA requests for many years, have received 100s, and so long as I say I’m a journalist, they’ve never charged me… Muckrock is far more a journalist than I am.
Even requesters in the “journalist” fee category still need to pay duplication costs.
Excellent question. MuckRock staff tries to push back on fees whenever we can, and we’re usually pretty successful at the federal level, which has relatively benign fees for media requesters.
But at the state level, agencies usually have much more discretion on how many fees to assess, which is why two of our most recent crowdfunds were at the local level, in St. Louis and Baltimore.
And while everyone on staff at MuckRock files as media requesters, some of our users aren’t media, and so have a more challenging fee fight. And in a few cases, even being a media requester doesn’t get you entirely off the hook, depending on the scope of your request and how quick they are too respond.