The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas (FOIFT) works together with journalism departments at universities across the state each year to execute the Light of Day project, a program aimed at giving college-level journalism students practical, real-life experience working with open records to develop investigative articles and data-driven projects.
Students at participating universities submit Texas Public Information Act requests to various governmental agencies depending on that semester’s topic.
After the data has been collected from each university, it is compiled into a database where it can be studied and developed into full investigative stories. Students can either 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 the state.
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.
At FOIFT, we believe that well-trained, effective journalists are vital to a fully functioning democracy, and that’s why we’re proud to administer the Light of Day project.