Erin C. Carroll


Until the modern-day press can determine how to profit from investigative journalism and begin to provide the kind of accountability reporting traditionally practiced by newspaper reporters, it needs a legal boost. Providing legal preferences for the press is nothing new, but it has not been done meaningfully for too long. Preferences that account for an unrelenting news cycle and the possibilities for instantaneous distribution of the news are needed.

FOIA is a logical place to start. Its goal is the promotion of transparency and democracy. But it too has long faltered in achieving this goal and, by many measures, is in desperate need of an overhaul. Amending FOIA’s expedited processing provision to create the presumption of “compelling need” for requests by journalists might finally give investigative journalists the quick and complete access to certain government information that they have long sought. In the process, journalists would be better able to serve their watchdog function and to continue barking loudly in the years to come.