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Database & Public Records Reporting/JOU3121 | News Workshop/JOU 3113



Know the Records

Knowing what records are out there is key to knowing how to get them. These guides will help you understand what's available and who keeps it.


Record Retention Schedules: Governments at all levels are generally required to enact rules or laws laying out what they do with records -- how long they are required to keep them, in what form and under what circumstances they can be destroyed. This "Records Retention Schedule" is itself a public record -- and a roadmap to what records are available to an enterprising journalist. This one is the State of Florida's "General Records Schedule GS1-L for Local Government Agencies." Read index and scanning the document for a window into what's available.


Investigator's Guide to Sources of Information: This 117-page guide was compiled in 1997 by the Office of Special Investigations of the congressional Government Accountability Office. Athough somewhat dated -- expecially the sections on electronic sources of information and the Internet -- it remains among the best of its kind, used both by government and private investigations. There's a PDF version you can download or an Web version you can view online.


FOI “A to Z:” Also from the Society for Professional Journalists, an alphabetically-organized list of specific subjects where FOI laws apply. SPJ says it's intended to "encourage more reporting on FOI issues" and suggests you think of it as an FOI `story tip sheet.'


Backgrounding: Reisner's concise guide.


Records are a State of Mind: From Pat Stith, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the News & Observer in Raleigh, NC.




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