Tips and Tricks for Public Records Requests from IRE 2022


Recently, KSL paid for me to attend the 2022 Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Denver.

The conference was held at the Gaylord Rocky Convention Center Hotel, essentially a giant corporate version of the Great Northern Hotel from Twin Peaks.

IRE has a lot of workshops on data journalism, beat-specific seminars, and career advice, but I chose mainly to primarily attend lectures on finding government records through FOIA and its state law equivalents.

Working in true crime podcasts, public police records and court documents are crucial to researching a story, and archival audio can really bring a story to life, but I really think these tips and tricks are useful to anyone doing investigative journalism.

Does it exist in open records?

Some states or agencies, automatically collect certain records and publish them online. For example, here are the open records from Utah’s department of public safety.

Do you know what you’re looking for and who has it?

If so, make a public records request. It can be helpful to look up the particular public records act for the place you’re requesting from and try to find a template specific to their statutes:

To continue reading this post, go to my new podcast and journalism-specific blog at


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