What is Light of Day?


In 2004, the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas board of members voted on a project to encourage and support investigative journalism by college and university journalists involving the use of government records. Nick Voinis, Daniel Russ and Pete Slover submitted the proposal. The board approved a pilot project to be designed by a board committee appointed by the president.

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 increasing the awareness and use of public information laws. The Light of Day Project provides a statewide network of college journalism students the opportunity for hands-on training using public information to develop investigative journalism projects.

 

The Process
Each year, an advisory committee selects a topic that lends itself to a long investigative series. 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, all of the components are gathered from each university and 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 and meet with potential employers.