The Open Public Records Act — otherwise known as New Jersey’s “Right to Know Law” — sets up procedures for the public, and press, to request government records. But actually using OPRA to get the documents you want isn’t necessarily easy. The law itself is 22 pages long, and contains myriad procedures, exemptions, limitations and deadlines. (The state’s guide to OPRA can be found here.) How you craft your request is crucial to whether you’ll get the documents you need to tell important news stories.
The NJ News Commons can now help coach its news partners, and their staffs, through the process. To get help filing an OPRA request, simply write to firstname.lastname@example.org, tell us who you are, who you work for, how to reach you — and explain what you’re trying to find out. The service is confidential and free to all partners of the NJ News Commons and working journalists in New Jersey.