Catherine MacDonald

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14 May 2010

A User-Friendly Guide to FOIA

So, you want to learn how to use FOIA? This package of stories is a guide to Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. It’s designed to help citizens understand the law and file requests for public information.

14 May 2010

FOIA: It’s Not Just for Journalists Anymore

It’s no longer a rare occurrence for individual citizens to make a splash as Phil and Ellen Winter did. The couple used the Freedom of Information Act, a law that makes it possible for the public to obtain certain types of documents and access to meetings, to investigate their local government.

14 May 2010

FOIA Quick Facts

Various levels of government have Freedom of Information Acts. There’s a federal FOIA (to get information from federal agencies) as well as a Virginia FOIA (to obtain information from state agencies). Here’s a rundown on the federal FOIA.

14 May 2010

Transparency Prevails in 2010 Legislative Session

This year’s General Assembly session was a good one for transparency-related bills in Virginia. Most of the bills that were considered detrimental to those who work for open government were defeated or amended, while most bills to expand FOIA made it through both the House and Senate.

14 May 2010

FOIA Help Links

A comprehensive, easy-to-follow information page on the federal FOIA, including an FAQ, sample letters and a list of exemptions.

14 May 2010

FOIA Lesson Plan for High School Teachers

This lesson plan could be part of the weeklong journalism instruction in 10th- and 11th-grade English classes. This plan is designed for schools that do not have a specific journalism program.

03 Mar 2010

Anti-Hate Rally Draws Crowd of 350

About 350 people rallied at Virginia Commonwealth University to show their support for diversity and to take a stand against discrimination and hate. The rally was a response to protests conducted around Richmond by Westboro Baptist Church members, who are notorious for making inflammatory remarks about gay people, Jews and other groups.

17 Feb 2010

Text4baby Provides Instant Info4mommy

A free text-messaging service called text4baby provides health information to pregnant women and new mothers during pregnancy and through a baby’s first year. You can sign up by texting BABY to 511411, or BEBE for Spanish.