About the project
This site is the digital home for the "Make FOIA Work: Using Freedom of Information Act Requests to Engage Students and Communities in Local Investigative Reporting" project.
In Fall 2018 journalism and civic media students at Emerson College in Boston, MA, participated in a journalism education project that used Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIAs) to engage journalists and local communities in sourcing information, identifying problems, and creating relevant and accessible stories.
Make FOIA Work is about re-imaging journalism through design, participation and collaboration. Faculty, staff and students at Emerson College and the Engagement Lab staff worked alongside the Boston Institute of Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ) and MuckRock, two independent and alternative news and information platforms and publishers.
This site shares the fruits of this partnership in the form of data-driven journalism stories developed out of successful FOIA requests. The stories expose corruption around the sales of guns in Massachusetts, the use of illicit or discontinued weapons, political connections, and more.
In addition to stories, the team has produced a participatory design process book that details how to conduct participatory and creative community engagement research. This book is a field guide for journalists, practitioners and community members that details our decision process and provides tips, techniques, and steps for undertaking your own participatory design projects.
The site also features the syllabi of the two participating design studios: participatory methods and data visualization. The courses worked in parallel to build engagement based approaches to community participation in the reporting, and through the use of FOIA requests.
Who was involved
Associate Professor, Journalism, Emerson College
Design Anthropologist and Affiliated Faculty, Engagement Lab, CMAP/Media Design, Journalism, Emerson College
Assistant Professor, Journalism, Emerson College
Co-Founder & Chief Executive, MuckRock
Editorial Director, Boston Institute of Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ)
Project Coordinator, Engagement Lab
Lead Designer, Engagement Lab
Lead Developer, Engagement Lab
Affiliated Faculty; CMAP ’19 candidate, Project Assistant
CMAP ’19 candidate, Project Assistant
Herman E. Servatious
CMAP ’19 candidate,Project Assistant