Category Archives: FOIAFest

FOIA Fest 2017 — Feb. 25

Tickets for the fifth-annual FOIA Fest 2017 are now live! Get yours before they sell out.

The fifth-annual FOIA Fest will be Feb. 25 at Loyola University Chicago. The daylong conference features panels and training sessions on everything from finding records hidden in plain sight to analyzing data for hard-hitting investigations.

Tickets to the event include continental breakfast, snack and lunch.

FOIAFest is made possible by the generous support of the Chicago Headline Club, Loyola University Chicago and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Where: Loyola University’s Corboy Law Center
25 E. Pearson St., Chicago

When: Saturday , February 25, 2017
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Who: We’ve got journalists from the Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times, Bloomberg, WBEZ and more! Speaker list and schedule here:

How much: $15 for Headline Club members, $20 for non-members, $5 for students. All are welcome! Click here to buy tickets.

McCormick Foundation awards FOIAFest grant

The Chicago Headline Club has received a two-year, $25,000 grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation to support FOIAFest. The Headline Club’s annual daylong conference leads up to Sunshine Week and aims to celebrate the importance of access to public information.

“This grant will allow the Headline Club to broaden its work to educate journalists on how to access information and how to keep government accountable,” Headline Club President Odette Yousef said. “This is critical work, and we are pleased and honored to have financial support from the McCormick Foundation for it.”

The Chicago-based foundation supports a variety of endeavors, from journalism and the First Amendment to early childhood education and civic engagement.

Save the date for this year’s FOIAFest: March 12 at Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower campus. Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the watchdog group the Better Government Association, is a keynote speaker. More than a dozen panels and workshops are in the works on everything from uncovering police misconduct and public officials using private emails to conduct public business, to digging for data and crafting a public records request.

Stay tuned at and, our website dedicated to FOIA issues, for more details.

Want a FREE TICKET to FOIAFest? Become a Headline Club member by Jan. 15. Contact to get this limited-time offer

Headline Club gift to you

Give yourself the gift of knowledge this holiday season: Become a member of the Chicago Headline Club now through Jan. 15 and get a free ticket to our fourth annual FOIA Fest, a daylong conference dedicated to access to public information.

Come hear from Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the watchdog group the Better Government Association. And come learn from more than a dozen panels and workshops on everything from how to uncover misconduct and develop sources to digging into data and crafting a public records request. FOIA Fest will be held on March 12 at Loyola University Chicago.

Interested in this great offer? Contact


More than 120 journalists attended a day-long observance of Sunshine Week that provided training in 12 sessions that ranged from the pros and cons of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act to how to find data and manipulate it with Excel spreadsheets. The Chicago Headline Club and Loyola University Chicago student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists sponsored the fest at Loyola March 14. Admission and lunch were free. Attendees got a free beer afterward at the Headline Club’s Burger Nite.




SouthtownStar columnist Phil Kadner, who helped write the current Illinois FOIA, and Ann Spillane, chief of staff for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office crafted and pushed for its adoption. (photo by Stan Zoller)




Knight Lab’s chief nerd, Joe Germuska, Derek Eder, co-founder of DataMade and Open Gov Hack Night, and Paul Wright, director of Local Media Development for Comcast/NBC Universal which includes managing EveryBlock. (photo by Steve Rynkiewicz)

More than 120 people attended FOIA Fest

More than 120 journalists, freelancers, activists, writers and media professionals gathered on March 14 for the second annual FOIA Fest: a daylong conference that recognized Sunshine Week.

At the conference, SouthtownStar columnist Phil Kadner discussed the state law and how it has evolved in recent years. College lecturer and scholar Jeff Kelly Lowenstein gave tips on how to mine data sets that have already been published online for story ideas.

The Chicago Tribune’s Jason Grotto led a conversation on how he manages to collect information using FOIA and the Chicago Reader’s Mick Dumke reminded the audience that public information officers are working people who deserve respect – even if they delay sharing important data.

Joe Germuska, the chief nerd of the Knight Lab at Northwestern University and Paul Wright, who among other things, manages EveryBlock for Comcast/NBCUniversal revealed ways technology can make public data sets usable.

There were break-out sessions conducted by Fernando Diaz of Hoy Chicago and hands-on, intensive workshops hosted by the Chicago Reporter’s Angela Caputo and the Chicago Tribune’s Andy Boyle. There were appearances by ABC7’s senior investigative reporter Chuck Goudie and Ann Spillane of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

FOIA Fest is part of ongoing FREE professional training offered by the Chicago Headline Club in order to help members sharpen their skills and become more effective and efficient reporters and writers.

The conference was sponsored, in part, by the McCormick Foundation.

Thank you for participating! Stay tuned for more!








FOIA Fest!


In light of Sunshine Week, the Chicago Headline Club is rolling out its first annual FOIA FEST. The Better Government Association’s Andy Shaw will help us kick off the week with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 11 at the auditorium of Columbia College Chicago’s journalism school, 33 E. Congress Pkwy., 2nd floor. Food and refreshments will be served.

On Tuesday, March 12, Citizen Advocacy Center’s Terry Pastika, the Northwestern University Knight Lab’s Joe Germuska and Smart Chicago Collaborative’s Dan O’Neil will discuss efforts to influence policy and legislation and how technology can improve access to public records. Food and refreshments will be served at the event, from 6:45 to 8 p.m. at the auditorium of Columbia College Chicago’s journalism school, 33 E. Congress Pkwy., 2nd floor.

On Wednesday, March 13, an all-star cast of Chicago journalists — NBC5 investigative producer Katy Smyser, Gary Marx and David Jackson of the Chicago Tribune and WBEZ’s Rob Wildeboer — along with Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office will meet and offer tips and strategies for prying government records loose. Light snacks and refreshments will be served at the event from 6 to 8 p.m. in WBEZ’ community room at Navy Pier.

Cost: Free!

Hope to see you there!