Assign readings

Looking for books or readings on FOI? How about high-impact news articles based on documents to get students talking? Below is a list of just some that are out there. Also, check out an annotated bibliography compiled by AccessNorthwest at Washington State University, including a list of resources by access guru Michael Ravnitzky.

High-impact news stories based on documents

These stories, based heavily on documents, get students talking and are great examples of how public records can illuminate important issues. If you assign these you are sure to stimulate class discussion.


Alterman, E. (2004). When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and its Consequences. NY: Penguin.

Bok, S. (1999). Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life. NY: Pantheon.

Bok, S. (1982). Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation. NY: Pantheon.

Brin, D. (1999). The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? Perseus.

Chapman, R. A., & Hunt, M. (2006). Open Government in a Theoretical and Practical Context. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Cross, H. (1953). The People’s Right to Know. NY: Columbia.

Davis, C. N., & Splichal, S. L. (2000). Access Denied: Freedom of Information in the Information Age. Ames: Iowa State University Press.

Demac, D. A. (1988). Liberty Denied: The Current Rise of Censorship. Rutgers University Press.

Devolpi, A., et al. (1981). Born Secret: The H-Bomb, the Progressive Case and National Security. Pergamon Policy Studies on Business and Economics. NY: Pergamon.

Franck & Weisband, (1986). Secrecy and Foreign Policy. NY: Oxford.

Fung, A., Graham, M., & Weil, D. (2007). Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency. NY: Cambridge University Press.

Gup, T. (2007). Nation of Secrets: The threat to democracy and the American way of life. NY: Doubleday.

Halprin, M., & Hoffman, D. (1977). Freedom vs. National Security: Secrecy and Surveillance. Chelsea House.

Hoffman, D. (1981). Governmental Secrecy and the Founding Fathers: A Study in Constitutional Controls. Contributions in Legal Studies, Westport: Greenwood Press.

Hood, C., & Heald, D. (2006). Transparency: The Key to Better Governance? NY: Oxford University Press.

Kimball, P. (1983). The File. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Kloseck, J. (2009). The Right to Know: Your Guide to Using and Defending Freedom of Information Law in the United States. Praeger.

Lord, K. M. (2006). The Perils and Promise of Global Transparency: Why the Information Revolution May Not Lead to Security, Democracy, or Peace. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Marchetti, V. (1974). CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. NY: Dell.

McDermott, P. (2007). Who Needs to Know? The State of Public Access to Federal Government Information. Lanham, MD: Bernan Press.

Moynihan, D. P. (1999). Secrecy: The American Experience. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Piotrowski, S. J. (2007). Governmental Transparency in the Path of Administrative Reform. State University of New York Press.

Roberts, A. (2006). Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age. NY: Cambridge University Press.

Shawcross, W. (1979). Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia. NY: Simon and Schuster.

Snepp, F. (1977). Decent Interval: An Insider’s Account of Saigon’s Indecent End Told by the CIA’s Chief Strategy Analyst in Vietnam. NY: Random House.

Snepp, F. (2001). Irreparable Harm: A Firsthand Account of How One Agent Took on the CIA in an Epic Battle over Free Speech. NY: Random House.

Florini, A. (2007). The Right to Know: Transparency for an Open World. NY: Columbia University Press.

Stone, G. R. (2007). Top Secret: When our Government Keeps us in the Dark. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.

Stone, G. R. (2007). War and Liberty: An American Dilemma, 1790 to the Present. NY: Norton.

Stone, G. R. (2004). Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime. NY: Norton.

Ungar, S. J. (1972). The Papers and the Papers: An Account of the Legal and Political Battle over the Pentagon Papers. NY: E.P. Dutton.

Wiener, J. (1999). Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Wiggins, J. R. (1964). Freedom or Secrecy. NY: Oxford.

Journal articles

Cuillier, D. (2008). Access attitudes: A social learning approach to examining community engagement and support for press access to government records. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 85(3), 549-576.

Cuillier, D., Duell, B., & Joireman, J. (2009). FOI friction: The thought of death, national security values, and polarization of attitudes toward freedom of information. Open Government, 5(1),

Davis, C. N. (2003). Electronic access to information and the privacy paradox: Rethinking practical obscurity and its impact on electronic freedom of information, Social Science Computer Review, 21(1), 15-26.

Fuchs, M. (2006). Judging secrets: The role courts should play in preventing unnecessary secrecy. Administrative Law Review, 58(1), 131-176.

Halstuk, M. E., & Chamberlin, B. F. (2006). The Freedom of Information Act 1966-2006: A retrospective on the rise of privacy protection over the public interest in knowing what the government’s up to. Communication Law and Policy, 11, 512-564.

Hoefges, M., Halstuk, M. E., & Chamberlin, B. F. (2003). Privacy rights versus FOIA disclosure policy: The “uses and effects” double standard in access to personally identifiable information in government records. William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 12(1), 1-64.

Kimball, M. B. (2003). Law enforcement records custodians’ decision-making behaviors in response to Florida’s public records law. Communication Law and Policy, 8, 313-360.

Kirtley, J. E. (2006). Transparency and accountability in a time of terror: The Bush administration’s assault on freedom of information. Communication Law and Policy, 11, 479-509.

Metcalfe, D. J. (2009). Sunshine not so bright: FOIA implementation lags behind. Administrative and Regulatory Law News, 34(4), 5-9.

Phelps, J. E., & Bunker, M. D. (2001). Direct marketers’ use of public records: Current legal environment and outlook for the future. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 15(1), 33-48.

Piotrowski, S. J., & Van Ryzin, G. G. (2007). Citizen attitudes toward transparency in local government. The American Review of Public Administration, 37(3), 306-323.

Quinn, A. C. (2003). Keeping the citizenry informed: early congressional printing and 21st century information policy. Government Information Quarterly, 20(3), 281-293.

Uhm, K. (2005). The Cold War communication crisis: The right to know movement. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 82(1), 131-147.

One Response

  1. You might consider listing Toby Mendel’s fine book FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: A Comparative Legal Study.

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