Light of Day

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The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas works with colleges and universities across the state on the Light of Day project, a program aimed at giving journalism students practical experience working with open records to develop investigative stories and data-driven projects.

The Process
Students at participating universities submit Texas Public Information Act requests to governmental agencies depending on that semester’s topic. After the data has been collected, it is compiled into a database where it can be studied and developed into full investigative stories. Students can work jointly between universities or each university can use the data to develop its own stories relevant to its local community. The students and faculty employ state and federal freedom of information laws to explore various angles. FOIFT provides legal and logistical support. This not only gives the students the experience of the reporting process, but it also provides them with an opportunity to network with their peers from across Texas. During the 2013-14 school year, Light of Day participants examined college student fees beyond tuition and tracking where the money goes.

The Results
The Light of Day Project trains tomorrow’s journalists in effective use of public information laws to gather information. Students learn how to analyze and report data and get hands-on experience in crafting and filing open records requests. Student journalists involved with the Light of Day Project have won multiple awards for their investigative stories on topics ranging from Taser use on campus to Title IX funding and its effect on science and math faculty across the state.

TX State - Light of DayTexas State University journalism students, above, described what they learned from Light of Day project data training in spring 2014.