FOIAfest 2017 Schedule


9 a.m.
Keynote: Welcome to FOIAFest 2017 Kasbeer Hall
David Cuillier, Director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism and Former Chair of SPJ’s Freedom of Information Committee, kicks off our daylong conference.
Speaker: David Cuillier
10 a.m.
FOIA 101: The nuts and bolts of crafting a public records request Room 207
Get tips from pros on what’s available under the Illinois FOIA law, how to file a request and what to do if you’re denied.
Speakers: Casey Toner, Jared Rutecki, Katie Drews, Brett Chase (moderator)
Small Papers, Big FOIA Room 208
Using the FOIA isn’t just a tool for major dailies. The staff at the downstate Pickneyville Press has used to show abuse of power by police officers and mayors. This session will feature how they accomplished this.
Speakers: Jeffery Egbert, Esther Seitz, Jessica Holder, Stan Zoller (moderator)
Case study: Waiting for CHA vouchers Room 209
Tim Novak, Chris Fusco, Mick Dumke and Brett Chase filed story upon story about the CHA for the Sun-Times and Better Government Association series “Beyond the rubble: Life after the CHA upheaval.” How’d they get the info, and how did they use it to find and shape stories?
Speakers: Tim Novak, Chris Fusco, Mick Dumke
11:15 a.m.
What to do if FOIA fails Room 207
For days, you’ve waited for a response from the FOIA officer. But now that you have it, your heart sinks. Your FOIA has been denied. The story might not end here.
Speakers: Chaclyn Hunt, Jonah Newman, Matt Topic, Brandon Smith, John Chase (moderator)
FOIA under Rauner/Emanuel Room 208
Is it harder to get public information these days? Are the days of hiding emails in personal accounts over? Experts will weigh in these issues and more.
Speakers: Mick Dumke, Bill Ruthhart, Stacy St. Clair, Jeff Coen
Excel 101 Room 201
This is a beginners session for those who want to learn the basics, including data entry, sorting, basic equations, and if there is time, pivot tables. To REGISTER send an email to ***This class will be capped at 10 people.
Jared Rutecki
12:30 p.m.
Lunch Kasbeer Hall
1:45 p.m.
A view from advocates and citizen journalists on the use of FOIA Room 207
Learn how FOIA can be used to engage in advocacy and shine a light on government. And how reporters can learn from citizen journalists.
Speakers: Selena Kyle, Alison Flowers, Rachel Granneman, Melissa Sanchez (moderator)
FOIA issues unique to student journalists Room 208
Often student journalists have to jump extra hurdles to get access to public information, from administrators censoring or trying to control the flow of information to not getting a FOIA request answered on time (or even at all). Get tips from the FOIA fighters.
Speakers: Rachel Hinton, Peter Grieve, Nader Issa, Megan Bennett, Richelle Rogers (moderator)
Case Study: The Price of Pork Room 209
Learn how Chicago Tribune reporters exposed animal abuse and pollution in Illinois’ growing pork industry. Read the series here.
Speakers: David Jackson
3 p.m.
Open Meetings, Closed Doors Room 207
Can reporters be kicked out of public meetings? Can they be denied access? How about public-private entities? Are their meetings open to the public? Buckle in for some tales.
Speakers: Sarah Karp, Maryam Judar, Angela Caputo, Maria Ines Zamudio (moderator)
FOIA and Databases Room 208
Darnell Little and Matt Kiefer discuss legal, technical and practical approaches to using FOIA when requesting data.
Speakers: Darnell Little, Matt Kiefer
Covering private businesses with little public information Room 209
You can’t FOIA Groupon or Walgreens. Learn how to dig into companies that aren’t beholden to public records laws. Where else can you find information?
Speakers: Mario Parker, Jacob Bunge, Lynne Marek, Dan Weissmann (moderator)