Tags : public records

A special Sunshine Week videos series on the NSA files

This week is Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of open government and access to public information. To honor the occasion, we're unveiling a special video series on the NSA files.

We talked with James Ball, special projects editor at the Guardian, about reporting one of the most high-stakes stories in the last decade.

He discusses the delicate balance between moving quickly and getting the story right. He talks about Edward Snowden's skepticism that the media would be willing to publish the material, and about winning him over and earning more of the documents. The complexity and classified nature ...

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Lack of protocol revealed in Oklahoma execution

Following the April 29th execution of Clayton Lockett, the Tulsa World, along with legal representation from The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, filed a lawsuit against the state of Oklahoma. On Friday, more than 5,000 pages of interview transcripts and other records were released.

The transcripts include about 100 interviews the Department of Public Safety conducted with witnesses during its investigation into Lockett's execution. However, some of the records are heavily redacted without explanation from the DPS.

A hearing in the World's lawsuit is set for March 27 in Oklahoma County District Court.

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Tips for keeping an eye on public spending

By Kasia Kovacs 

TIPSHEET

View presentations from Joanna Lin and Cezary Podkul.

Journalists didn’t have to look far to prove that Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock was using taxpayer money to pay for surfing in Waikiki, parasailing in Argentina and renovating his office with Downtown Abbey flair.

All the reporters had to do? Check Schock’s Instagram account

The account was chock-full of selfies, some posing with celebrities like Ariana Grande, and others taken from the far corners of the world. According to the Washington Post, quite a bit of the funding for those trips came from campaign and taxpayer ...

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Behind the Story: How NPR and ProPublica exposed problems with the Red Cross’ response to Superstorm Sandy

Justin Elliott of ProPublica

Justin Elliott, Jesse Eisinger and Laura Sullivan turned a vague tip about the American Red Cross’ inefficiency into a powerful report about the organization’s failings after Hurricane Isaac and Superstorm Sandy.

The joint project between ProPublica and NPR revealed that hundreds of millions of dollars pouring in from donors in 2012 fell to organization leaders often more concerned with the appearance that they were helping than with actually providing aid. The team of reporters got the story through public records, internal emails and documents, and accounts from current and former disaster relief specialists.

The team ...

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University of Oklahoma releases parking tickets after student newspaper joins suit

A decision by the student newspaper at the University of Oklahoma to join its staffer’s lawsuit against the school caused officials to reverse course on their original decision to withhold parking ticket citations.

OU Daily staff member Joey Stipek had filed the suit in May 2013 after his open records requests for parking tickets was denied on the grounds that the citations were protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA.

Last week, the Daily published an editorial backing Stipek and declaring that the newspaper is joining the lawsuit. OU President David Boren soon after issued ...

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New York newspaper asks judge to force release of license plate data

The Democrat & Chronicle is fighting a county’s denial to provide license plate information about seven newspaper employees and a couple government-owned vehicles, the paper reports.

The Rochester, New York-based paper has reported that Monroe County is indiscriminately amassing license-plate information from high-speed cameras. During the summer, a reporter filed a Freedom of Information Law request to obtain the records about his own license plate and that of six colleagues and two government vehicles.

County officials denied the request because, they said, a release of the data could violate personal privacy or interfere with a law enforcement investigation. The paper ...

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Behind the Story: New Jersey reporter finds inconsistencies in 2008 death investigation

Chris Baxter

Chris Baxter and NJ Advance Media wrestled out a compelling and untold story, let the digital presentation take the lead and came away with a “smashing” investigative success.

Using a system he developed to keep tabs on lawsuits involving state police, Baxter came upon the stifled story of Kenwin Garcia, a Newark man who died in 2008 after an altercation with police along the side of the highway.

Baxter embarked on a deep reporting project that resulted in 7,000 words, an 8-page special print section in The Star-Ledger and a digital presentation as rich as any Baxter ...

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Judge lifts court order against Ala. newspaper

An Alabama judge has lifted a temporary restraining order banning the Montgomery Advertiser from publishing public documents it obtained from a gas company.

The newspaper had obtained, through an open records request to the state’s Public Service Commission, a copy of Alabama Gas Corp.’s Integrity Management Plan, which contained information about the age and condition of gas pipes in communities such as Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma.

Alagasco argued that publishing the location of the pipes raised the risk for terrorism. Judge Robert Vance originally agreed but, in lifting his restraining order, wrote that “while such possibilities might exist ...

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Public records request service sues CIA over FOIA practices

MuckRock is suing the CIA over a handful of specific FOIA requests that would shed light on how the agency determines what is and isn’t releasable, among other things.

The CIA “has a track record of holding itself apart from, and largely above, the Freedom of Information Act, consistently ignoring deadlines, refusing to work with requesters, and capriciously rejecting even routine requests for what should be clearly public information,” MuckRock wrote in a blog post.

The suit also addresses the way the CIA handles general requests for emails.

You can learn more about the individual FOIA requests involved in ...

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Behind the Story: How KSHB-Kansas City uncovered a trail of dirty deeds

Video by Ryan Kath and John Woods, KSHB

KSHB-Kansas City’s year-long investigation into a widespread real estate fraud scheme started simple – with a tip from an observant neighbor.

But when reporter Ryan Kath started looking into the housing documents, he spotted a bigger problem. Someone had been stealing homes by forging signature of both the living and the dead. Often, Kath found, the homeowners had no idea.

It’s a crime that’s “shockingly easy,” and little oversight was in place to keep it from happening. The dirty deeds forced victims to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees ...

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