Citizen journalism and open records

At the heart of the Genarlow Wilson sex tape story is the claim by prosecutor David McDade that he had no choice about releasing the tapes after receiving open records requests. Andre at Georgia Unfiltered realized he could use Georgia’s open records law to find out who had filed those requests, and when. Here’s Part III of the series he is writing on that. McDade released over 30 copies of the tape, but he only received 18 written requests for it and several of them (including one from the New York Times) were received by McDade’s office after he had released the tapes.

In Colorado, activist Peggy Tibbetts reports on a recent open records request.


In New Mexico, the city of Farmington is asking other cities to join in its legal appeal of a recent court ruling that applications for the job of city manager are to be considered public documents and open to the public.

The Topeka Capital-Journal is working on a story, using open records as an investigative tool, to try to get to the bottom of rumors about how vendors were chosen when the Topeka purchased computer software. A city manager is accusing a recent editorial–which alleged that “bid-rigging” might have occurred–of crossing over the line into libel.

“We’re at a point that we need to get to the bottom of this,” said Capital-Journal publisher Mark Nusbaum. “The concerns raised by the county commissioner and staff are very serious, and the implications are significant. We hope that with the open records requests, we can at least clear up the picture to some degree.”

We hope the Topeka Capitol-Journal gets the records they seek–it’s about the city’s bidding process, which goes to the core of concerns about integrity. Records about bids should be easily and readily available on request.

Finally, in a national story that has implications for state FOIAers, ABC News reports that Two Spy Agencies (their phrase) have begun to treat FOIA requests from bloggers the same way they treat FOIA requests from professional reporters.


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