The research center has created a new guide on FOIL and FOIA FAQS.

What is a FOIL & FOIA?

FOIL, or “Freedom of Information Law,” is a law enacted in New York State to ensure public access-by-request to records held and produced by or on behalf of state governmental agencies, including the legislature.

FOIA stands for “Freedom of Information Act” and is the federal equivalent and precursor to FOIL.

Why and how should I use this?

For journalists, freedom-of-information laws are important because they can be used to extend or deepen the public witnessing and information spreading functions of reportage.

However, they should generally not be relied upon unless available avenues for getting the information you need to write your story or to do your piece are exhausted, and you still don’t have everything you need.

Records requests should be made when they are absolutely necessary, or when you have time enough to research and produce work that is not time-sensitive and which will remain newsworthy in the future.

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