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Public records are essential for good journalism, government accountability, democracy and everyday life. But getting documents and data isn’t always easy. Whether you are a student or a seasoned pro, we think you will benefit from The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records.

This is the only textbook you will find specific to accessing public records. Nowhere else will you find a more complete guide that walks through the complete process, including:

  • Getting in a document state of mind
  • Teaching yourself freedom of information law
  • Finding records
  • Applying strategies in requesting records
  • Overcoming denials
  • Dealing with electronic records
  • Understanding how records clerks view the process
  • Pursuing records ethically and writing document-based stories that sing

The book also provides a handy list of FOI resources, a list of document ideas, and dozens of exercises you can apply in the classroom or newsroom. You’ll also find helpful “Pro Tips” from dozens of experts we interviewed for the book, including:

  • Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, investigative reporters
  • Helen Thomas, longtime Whitehouse correspondent and current columnist
  • Brant Houston, former director of Investigative Reporters and Editors
  • Jennifer LaFleur, database editor for ProPublica
  • Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • Miriam Nisbet, federal FOIA ombudsman
  • Patrice McDermott, director of
  • William Ury, co-author of Getting to Yes


Educators can request a review copy directly from CQ Press.  Professional discount available for multiple-copy sales.  Contact Chris O’Brien at CQ Press.

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