It’s a core component of journalism in a democracy: making sure the public gets the information that it has a right to know. The Associated Press is committed to this principle and is a leading and aggressive advocate of transparency and accountability in government. The process of requesting public records and fighting for access around the world, sometimes in court, has long been part of AP’s DNA. Our journalists filed many hundreds of requests in 2014 under the federal Freedom of Information Act and state open records statutes, many of which resulted in important stories that the public would otherwise not have known. Here are 10 things AP uncovered in 2014 through its dogged pursuit of access to public records:
Federal Aviation Administration officials and St Louis County police tried to keep news helicopters away from sometimes violent unrest following the shooting of a teenager, Michael Brown, by a police officer.
At least 786 children died of abuse or neglect in the United States in a six-year span while they or their families had open cases with child protection agencies.
Details of dozens of deaths at Rikers Island jail in New York — such as an inmate “basically baking to death” — that prompted lawsuits to speed up the pace of reforms.
Thousands of people who received government aid after Superstorm Sandy may be forced to give some or all of that money back, nearly two years after the disaster.
The federal government’s shutdown of the nation's already crowded immigration courts meant that 37,000 hearings had been postponed, and not just for a few weeks.
Nearly 400 nursing homes in 39 states, licensed to house more than 52,000 vulnerable people, hadn't installed enough sprinklers to meet a federal mandate.
Under the Affordable Care Act, roughly 20 percent of contracts held by Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, had been awarded on a no-bid basis and contracts worth millions of dollars had been granted without competitive bidding to friends and former associates of the agency’s executive director.
A special group of 4,000 companies, farms and others had unmonitored access to California's dwindling water supplies and were under no obligation to conserve, even amid the severe drought.
More than 3,200 Iowa government license plates tied to local, state and federal agencies carry a designation that exempts them from tickets stemming from traffic cameras in the state.
The U.S. government paid nearly $505,000 for travel and luxury hotels for a politically connected consultant who oversaw a failed $217 million U.S.-backed Africa power deal marred by complaints of sexual abuse, injuries and environmental damage.
Learn more about what AP has done in the past to fight for access.