FOI tips from the inside: How to be better at FOI

I’m returning to FOI training for the first time in a few months this week, so thought it would be a good idea to find out the sort of questions people have about FOI.

At the same time, I also used Twitter to ask local authority folk what journalists could do to improve their FOI success rate.

Here are some of the tips suggested to me via Twitter:

@Fionamc: journos often forget they’ve a right to information not documents. Frame request with this in mind to pinpoint content #FOI

@foimanuk: be as clear as possible-tempting to trawl but focussed requests often most productive; can follow up if necessary

@foimanuk: be polite; we know we have to comply and often want to help. Don’t assume we’re trying to obstruct

@sturgey: yes, building a decent relationship with FOI officers and comms can only be a good thing. No excuse for rudeness.

@puffles2010: Puffles says sequence the requests: Broad scope of what they hold first, followed by targeted follow-up

@puffles2010: Puffles says to focus on asking for evidence-bases – studies, datasets & analytical reports.(more likely 2B released)

@ActNowTraining: Decide whether your request is urgent- if so better to contact press office and have a chat first.

@samdimmer: always find that chatting to the people who research the FOIs is a wise move. I find the ones that like me go much further.

If you have anything you’d like to add, please do so.

I’d also suggest checking out FOIMan’s blog – it has loads of useful ideas for improving FOIs.

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