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NC public records/ open government in 2020: COVID-19, protests, policing and more - Shared screen with speaker view
Melanie Sill
36:30
Please use the chat to share questions, comments and resources
Melanie Sill
36:55
We will take questions along the way and also for the last 15 minutes of the session
Melanie Sill
39:10
Here’s Amanda
Melanie Sill
39:42
Sorry, here’s Amanda’s column: https://1stforareason.wordpress.com
Melanie Sill
44:13
NC Attorney General’s office Open Government Guide: https://ncdoj.gov/public-protection/open-government/
Victoria Ekstrand
47:19
Can someone post a copy of that complaint against the state? Thanks.
Tyler Dukes
51:52
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6931754-FS-Verified-Complaint-and-Request-for-Mediation.html
Victoria Ekstrand
53:38
Not sure if we have student journalists on the call, but they are super frustrated, as usual.
Brian Keyes
53:58
^ yes
Melanie Sill
55:03
NC Watchdog R
Melanie Sill
55:18
NC Watchdog Reporting Network https://carolinapublicpress.org/author/nc-watchdog-reporting-network/
Melanie Sill
56:26
What questions do you have re COVID-19 data or info?
Suzannah Perry
01:03:20
Do y have any advice as to how student journalists can maneuver differences in FERPA interpretations between UNC system schools? For example, NCSU has been releasing different COVID-related data on its dashboard than UNC-CH has. Is there any way reporters might be able to use this to our advantage, perhaps to get more info from UNC?
Suzannah Perry
01:03:27
*y’all
Melanie Sill
01:03:53
Here’s the “What to Say When They Say No” document: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1g-c2xV7UeI9JyscSp8NNCEBpp3HkeZ5D/view?usp=sharing
Tyler Dukes
01:10:43
Hey Suzannah, this is a good question. Probably the first step is to understand how the university is keeping track of all of this.formally request the same data used in other dashboards from UNC, pointing to NCSU as an example. If you get pushback from that, get somebody on the record explaining the interpretation of FERPA, and why it’s different than another university in the same system.
Suzannah Perry
01:11:21
Thank you!
Tyler Dukes
01:12:46
The other option: Shame. There’s a really good story in the differences in interpretation, and you can use the college rivalry to your advantage. And this is more than just journalists whining: This is a case where one community is given more public health information than another, and that disparity is important to explore and get your community’s feedback on.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:13:50
Does shame still live? I kid, only in part. But good advice for education reporting.
Cathy Clabby
01:14:42
Besides these videos, what other records should police departments be releasing relevant to us understanding police misbehavior ?
Lucille Sherman
01:15:04
I second the shame strategy. It works really well.
Mike Tadych
01:15:27
911 recordings and recordings of communications by law enforcement over the public airways.
C Amanda Martin
01:15:43
Also ask for the personnel records that may exist following …
C Amanda Martin
01:16:17
You don’t have a right to full personnel records but you do have a right to know if someone has been placed on leave, for example.
Kirk Ross
01:19:04
What Victoria’s experiencing covering COVID is happening rn w/ climate change as well
Victoria Bouloubasis
01:19:40
Definitely, Kirk!
Melanie Sill
01:20:11
Victoria referenced: https://enlacelatinonc.org/
Eric Rowell
01:20:22
I have had success with obtaining the info covered by the statute, but only after persistent efforts.
Emily Featherston
01:21:46
I will copy and paste the language of the statute, then re-state what I am asking for
Victoria Bouloubasis
01:22:06
Thanks everyone. I need to run. Feel free to email me at victoriabouloubasis@gmail.com.
Melanie Sill
01:24:17
Here’s a quick and easy PowerPoint from Mike Tadych on law enforcement agency recordings (Thanks, Mike!) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1u_msNLGweoRrt-iUvJeFifi_XuI_E_Ok/view?usp=sharing
Kirk Ross
01:26:06
“compelling public interest” I think
Melanie Sill
01:26:21
If you want to get this whole chat with the links, click the ellipsis down at the right hand bottom corner of the chat window
Melanie Sill
01:30:14
Kirk Ross here on need for legislative secrecy reform: Kirk Ross in IndyWeek on how COVID-19 has increased legislative secrecy, and call for reform: https://indyweek.com/news/northcarolina/covid-19-pandemic-north-carolina-general-assembly/
Jeremy Borden
01:30:55
Seems like now would be a good time to push for changes to police accountability laws. Anyone in the journalism/transparency community actively pushing, passing around draft legislation etc?
Carli Brosseau
01:32:45
I'd love to know about such efforts too. SPJ Oregon was fairly successful in lobbying for improvements in the state's public records law.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:34:18
In Colorado, a student of mine, John Frank, a former N&O reporter, wrote a large takeout on what needed to improve in the public records laws there. A listicle of thoughts. He won awards for it and helped to spark conversations there. Don’t know if that makes sense here, but I offer that up as well.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:34:29
*what was needed
Victoria Ekstrand
01:34:46
He researched, interviewed experts, lawmakers and sources.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:35:41
I’m guessing Tyler or others have already done that. :(
Melanie Sill
01:36:09
One more resource from Amanda Martin: “Chief Justice I Beverly Lake used the “maintain public confidence” exception to personnel confidentiality to release information about John Kennedy, head of AOC. I often share this with folks to use in trying to persuade local officials to take advantage of this exception. It’s a good go-by.” https://drive.google.com/file/d/1R-o5xjnMHX0qC7p7nQZjFOA_eM6D28Tq/view?usp=sharing
Tyler Dukes
01:36:20
BOO JOHN FRANK (just kidding, John is great). I have not done this, but this is really good idea.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:37:30
LOL. The truth is some lawmakers care. And he interviewed those people in addition to sources and citizens getting screwed. So it was storytelling followed by a Top Ten list or similar of things that needed to change.
Mike Tadych
01:37:46
Sounds like a wonderful collaborative opportunity for the UNC J-School and Elon Comm School. No better way to teach the nuts and bolts of public records based reporting.
Eric Frederick
01:38:21
^^^^
Victoria Ekstrand
01:38:25
I do have my master’s students researchers this semester. We could see if a group of them wants to do the deep dive. Or I could mandate it. LOL.
Melanie Sill
01:39:09
Let us know how we can help
Victoria Ekstrand
01:39:12
Maybe some folks here would like to work with us if we did that?
Gray Player
01:39:13
^One of Dr. Ekstrand’s master’s students here. That sounds really interesting.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:39:21
xoxoxo
Victoria Ekstrand
01:39:48
We love our students and they are SO stressed right now.
Mike Tadych
01:40:20
That would be great! We'd be happy to give our thoughts as well. I didn't mean to short change the other journalism programs in the state. Wide spread coalitions are my jam.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:40:35
Thanks, Melanie. We’ll think about this and circle back. Yes, partners around the state.
Gray Player
01:40:44
^I will also corroborate that second sentiment from Dr. Ekstrand
Jeremy Borden
01:40:50
Good ideas here. Im just lobbing from the outside, but maybe if media does the storytelling, the lawyers could provide redlined statutes/draft legislation. Give em no excuse.
Melanie Sill
01:42:12
Two more good general, ongoing resources on seeking info: NC Open Government Coalition website and FAQ on Covid-19 and public records: https://www.elon.edu/u/ncopengov/NC Attorney General’s office Open Government Guide: https://ncdoj.gov/public-protection/open-government/NC Press Association Legal Hotline for member: http://ncpress.com/stories/legal-hotline,278?
Victoria Ekstrand
01:42:13
I’d love to go back to John Frank, but it was the storytelling that helped in Colorado, but yes having potential solutions is key.
Melanie Sill
01:42:30
Or, Three more. :)
Victoria Ekstrand
01:43:18
OK it wasn’t ten ideas, but five: https://www.denverpost.com/2016/05/28/five-ways-to-improve-government-transparency-in-colorado/
Brooks Fuller
01:43:44
A resource y’all ought to know about for bill tracking: https://www.nfoic.org/bill-tracking/northcarolina
Brooks Fuller
01:44:05
Our coalition and the NFOIC is fine tuning search criteria but it’s a start
Gray Player
01:47:19
Are there public records statutes/judicial decisions that exist *outside* of NC that any have “circled?” Ones that could potentially serve as precedent for overturning a denial of a records request? Or ones that speak to an intentional “elongated delay” in addressing a records request by administrations?
Victoria Ekstrand
01:48:17
One of things John Frank did was to look at other states. Something we could consider.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:48:22
*of the
Dan Kane
01:49:49
https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2019/sunshine-week-shines-heres-a-journalism-win-thats-had-a-lasting-impact/
Victoria Ekstrand
01:50:53
Again, storytelling.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:51:15
Still uphill battle and we’re all exhausted.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:53:21
Thank you. I would love this recording.
Victoria Ekstrand
01:53:41
**applause for the journalists**