Your essential weekly guide to the latest on FOIA, transparency and accountability battles, threats and wins. Powered by the reporters at MuckRock.

Building trust before collaborating and other lessons from the Transparency Corps

Cicero Independiente's Efrain Soriano is part of MuckRock's Transparency Corps, using public records to understand housing issues impacting the Chicago suburb. One key area that caught his attention:  How rental and utility assistance programs were being managed and publicized.

But before he dug into that, he found it was key to build trust with collaborators, both within the Corps and in the wider community. It takes time to trust the people you’re working with. Delaying or attempting to skip that step in the collaborative process will only derail the goals he came into the program with, he writes in a new reflection on MuckRock.

Read Efrain's latest
Help power transparency: Submit to an open call!

MuckRock works with newsroom partners around the country to dig into stories that matter but to do that we need to hear from you. Right now we have a range of open calls:

Want to launch an investigation of your own? We're also seeking applications for our Gateway Grants, which offer funding in support of transparency projects that use DocumentCloud to help scrape, obtain, organize, analyze and publish important document collections — apply today! The deadline is rolling and ongoing.

And if you just want to help us continue to build a more transparent world, consider sharing our resources with someone who would find them interesting or making a donation — any amount helps us continue our fight for a more open tomorrow.
Support MuckRock's transparency efforts
The update 

▶ Who wants to know? The public. State laws differ broadly on requirements for identification, but increasingly we've seen agencies invent their own rules by putting "mandatory" fields in public records portals. After the First Amendment Coalition raised concerns, the City of Vallejo backed down on that tactic.

▶ Policing transparency: Paighten Harkins shares some good news in Utah: Since last year, the Salt Lake Tribune has been fighting for the release of internal police interviews regarding the police killing of Michael Glad. These documents are known as Garrity records, and the court sided with the paper and ruled that the public's interest trumps privacy concerns.

▶ Want to make opening government your day job? Our friends at City Bureau are expanding the Documenters network and are looking for a few good people to help expand access and understanding of public meetings.

FOIA finds  & top docs 
  • Warranted interest: Dozens of newsrooms have uploaded newly released documents related to the search of Mar-a-Lago, and you can explore them right on DocumentCloud. Newly released documents include the warrant itself, as well as various court filings and rulings related to the search.
  • Spotted: MuckRock user J Ader has been digging into ShotSpotter documents from various cities, and a few documents are starting to come back. Check out the requests on MuckRock, and if you're curious about your own community's use of ShotSpotter, clone and file a request today.

For The Record was written by Michael Morisy and edited by André Natta.

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