Study: Average Americans more likely to be shut out of government records process


Journalists, average Americans, and others seeking government records in the public interest are more likely to be denied information than for-profit requesters, according to a new study titled “Tale of two requesters: How public records law experiences differ by requester types,” co-authored by David Cuillier, director of the Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project at the University of Florida. The study was published in March in the peer-reviewed journal Journalism.

Cuillier and co-author A. Jay Wagner of Marquette University surveyed 330 people across the United States who have requested public records from the government through state and federal freedom of information laws.

They compared two different kinds of requesters: Those seeking information in the public interest, such as journalists, researchers, and nonprofit organizations, and those seeking information for commercial purposes, such as lawyers and businesses that profit from information. 

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