Our Fellowship with MuckRock
In partnership with MuckRock -- and to celebrate our 20th anniversary -- SWMS has donated $20K to help fund the Sam Whitmore Media Survey Fellowship. MuckRock serves journalists, researchers and citizens by requesting, analyzing and sharing government documents as obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
SWMS and MuckRock will collaborate throughout 2018 to raise matching grants and smaller contributions to ensure that the fellowship will continue for years to come.
Here are the details on the fellowship, as expressed by MuckRock co-founder Michael Morisy:
The Sam Whitmore Media Survey Fellowship
The Sam Whitmore Media Survey Fellowship will give early-career reporters a chance to master the tools of government transparency while providing the public an in-depth look at the state of government accountability across America.
Coached by MuckRock’s veteran reporters and provided dedicated access to cutting-edge transparency tools, selected Fellows will be given the mandate of tracking threats to open and accessible government, including dubious denials, increasing secrecy for public officials, and other barriers to an informed democracy.
The fellows will work with dozens of newsrooms through MuckRock’s reporting network, empowering journalists, researchers, and citizens in all 50 states to hold government accountable to the people.
In addition to regular reporting on news about access to government information, the fellows will help continue building MuckRock’s rich interactive database, which tracks access laws across the country and includes data on more than 200 exemptions, offers sample appeal language, and provides resources used by newsrooms everywhere to successfully fight for access. The data will also help expose trends in secrecy and highlight the true cost of opacity.
The Sam Whitmore Media Survey Fellowship will be a launchpad for tomorrow’s investigative journalists and serve as an important catalyst for transparency today.
MuckRock is a non-profit news site that brings together journalists, researchers, activists, and regular citizens to request, analyze, and share government documents. With its easy-to-use filing tools and engaging coverage of government openness (or lack thereof), the site makes transparency accessible to everyone, keeping our democracy informed.
Since its founding in 2010, MuckRock has helped release more than 1.8 million pages of previously secret government records from more than 9,000 different agencies at the local, state, and federal level. This is all done through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and records requests, which require government agencies to provide documents to the public.
More than 10,000 MuckRock users across the country have used the platform to file more than 40,000 public records requests, making MuckRock the largest non-governmental repository of public records requests in the United States by a wide margin. Hundreds of thousands of readers, including reporters, policy makers, and the general public, take advantage of these resources every month.
More than half of MuckRock requests are at the state and local level, critically important as shrinking local news organizations struggle to hold officials accountable. A recent report on the future of public records, commissioned by the Knight Foundation, found MuckRock was “the most useful online/digital tool for requesters.”