Every journalist who requests records from the federal government through the Freedom of Information Act should be familiar with its administrative appeals process. Unfortunately, for various reasons, federal agencies at times fail to adhere to FOIA’s disclosure requirements. When this occurs, journalists are not without recourse. They can appeal adverse decisions to higher authorities within an agency and often must in order to enforce their rights.
The Reporters Committee filed an amicus brief with the Virginia Supreme Court in a case involving access to University of Virginia professor Michael Mann's email exchanges related to his climate change research, arguing that the lower court's definition of "proprietary information" that is exempt from disclosure is far too broad and would make any document in the possession of a government agency exempt from the Virginia records act.