NC public records/ open government in 2020: COVID-19, protests, policing and more - Shared screen with speaker view
Please use the chat to share questions, comments and resources
We will take questions along the way and also for the last 15 minutes of the session
Sorry, here’s Amanda’s column: https://1stforareason.wordpress.com
NC Attorney General’s office Open Government Guide: https://ncdoj.gov/public-protection/open-government/
Can someone post a copy of that complaint against the state? Thanks.
Not sure if we have student journalists on the call, but they are super frustrated, as usual.
NC Watchdog R
NC Watchdog Reporting Network https://carolinapublicpress.org/author/nc-watchdog-reporting-network/
What questions do you have re COVID-19 data or info?
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?
Here’s the “What to Say When They Say No” document: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1g-c2xV7UeI9JyscSp8NNCEBpp3HkeZ5D/view?usp=sharing
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.
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.
Does shame still live? I kid, only in part. But good advice for education reporting.
Besides these videos, what other records should police departments be releasing relevant to us understanding police misbehavior ?
I second the shame strategy. It works really well.
911 recordings and recordings of communications by law enforcement over the public airways.
C Amanda Martin
Also ask for the personnel records that may exist following …
C Amanda Martin
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.
What Victoria’s experiencing covering COVID is happening rn w/ climate change as well
Victoria referenced: https://enlacelatinonc.org/
I have had success with obtaining the info covered by the statute, but only after persistent efforts.
I will copy and paste the language of the statute, then re-state what I am asking for
Thanks everyone. I need to run. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
“compelling public interest” I think
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
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/
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?
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.
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.
*what was needed
He researched, interviewed experts, lawmakers and sources.
I’m guessing Tyler or others have already done that. :(
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
BOO JOHN FRANK (just kidding, John is great). I have not done this, but this is really good idea.
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.
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.
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.
Let us know how we can help
Maybe some folks here would like to work with us if we did that?
^One of Dr. Ekstrand’s master’s students here. That sounds really interesting.
We love our students and they are SO stressed right now.
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.
Thanks, Melanie. We’ll think about this and circle back. Yes, partners around the state.
^I will also corroborate that second sentiment from Dr. Ekstrand
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.
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?
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.
Or, Three more. :)
OK it wasn’t ten ideas, but five: https://www.denverpost.com/2016/05/28/five-ways-to-improve-government-transparency-in-colorado/
A resource y’all ought to know about for bill tracking: https://www.nfoic.org/bill-tracking/northcarolina
Our coalition and the NFOIC is fine tuning search criteria but it’s a start
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?
One of things John Frank did was to look at other states. Something we could consider.
Still uphill battle and we’re all exhausted.
Thank you. I would love this recording.
**applause for the journalists**