Media Access By Caroline Pacl

Freedom of Information Act Helps

To begin with, the Department of Justice is responsible for overseeing the implementation of FOIA across state agencies. Because of this, the DOJ and its many divisions set the bar for all other agencies in how it manages the media and how it makes information available to the public.

The most important way that an agency can improve its transparency is through its website(s). The DOJ-Anti-Trust Division maintains its website well, with updates daily.

In 2009, the Attorney General issued a new set of guidelines for the heads of all federal departments and agencies to help improve the process of disclosing information under the Freedom of Information Act.

How to get Antitrust Information Without a FOIA Request

The Public documents, website is the place to go if you’re looking for:

Complaints, indictments, and final judgments, as well as statements of policy and interpretations, staff manuals, guidelines, press releases, speeches, Congressional testimony, business review letters, and the Anti-Trust telephone directory.

If the information you need is public information, but is not on the website you can can request it by calling:
(202) 514-2481 or emailing: atrdocs.grp@usdoj.gov.

How to get Antitrust Information With a FOIA Request

The traditional “Media Contact” of PR departments is the called the FOIA Public Liaison at the Department of Justice. This office is responsible in making sure the public has access to the information it wants, whether it comes directly through the DOJ office or a media outlets.

The most important contact info for reporters to have on hand is the FOIA Request Center at the Anti-Trust Division.
The FOIA Public Liaison Ronald Wiercioch, can be reached directly at (202) 514-2692.

Sue Ann Slates is the Chief of Freedom of Information Act / Privacy Act at the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division. Her contact information is:
(202) 514-2692 E-mail: antitrust.foia@usdoj.gov

If the information you are looking for is not found in the “Public Documents” page then you will need to make a FOIA request.  By law, all federal agencies are required to respond to a FOIA request within 20 days, however some agencies (like the FBI or DEA) have such high volume of FOIA requests that they cannot meet this requirement.

3 Tracks for FOIA Requests

To put it simply: There area are three tracks that a FOIA request will be processed on.

Track one is for those seeking to expedite their FOIA request. An expedited response will only be issued if:

  1. The lack of expedited treatment could reasonably be expected to pose a threat to someone’s life or physical safety.
  2. An individual will suffer the loss of substantial due process rights
  3. The request is made by a reporter and the information is urgently needed to inform the public concerning some actual or alleged federal government activity
  4. the subject of the request is of widespread and exceptional media interest and the information sought involves possible questions about the government’s integrity which affect public confidence

The second track is for requests that don’t involve “voluminous records or lengthy consultations with other entities.”

Track three is for requests that do  involve “voluminous records and for which lengthy or numerous consultations are required,” or those requests involving anything the director of public affairs deems “sensitive records.”

How the DOJ Manage the Media

Furthermore, the Department of Justice and its divisions follow a strict set of guidelines. Understanding their position might make the job of the media a little easier.

The director of the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) ultimately decides  all communications between the media/public and the Department of Justice. Some of the more significant notes on how they manage public communication include:

  1. Press Releases are the most common form of public communications, and press conferences are held only for the most significant and newsworthy action or events.
  2. Press Conferences may be held for extreme circumstances regarding: 1) Heinous crimes of great public interest, 2) Threats to the public, and if there is a 3) Call for public action/assistance.
  3. The U.S. Attorney will coordinate any comments, including any written statements, prior to any scheduled press conference.

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  1. […] more information on the process of FOIA requests by the media see our “Media Access” […]



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