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Ohio Supreme Court rules in favor of student journalist, opening private university police records

(05/21/15 3:54pm)

In a 4-3 decision, the Court ruled the Otterbein University Police Department can be compelled to produce public records because it employs sworn, state-certified police officers, who have the same arresting authority as municipal police or a county sheriff.

California cop's sexy texts may leave records requesters heartbroken

(04/20/10 5:12pm)

When California police sergeant Jeff Quon used his city-issued pager to exchange racy text messages with his girlfriend, it is readily apparent what was on his mind – and it was not the future of journalists’ access to public records. Nevertheless, Quon’s dispute with his former employer has become the unlikely vehicle for a court case placing the accessibility of government officials’ electronic correspondence at risk. On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Quon’s case arising out of his dismissal by the City of Ontario, Calif., on the grounds of excessive personal use of city equipment. Quon contends that the city’s inspection of the content of his messages violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches.

Need public records? Spare the hearts and flowers - it's the fist that gets results

(08/02/10 2:05pm)

Arizona journalism professor David Cuillier is kind of the Johnny Appleseed of open government. He recently completed a 33-state national tour, sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, to spread the gospel of public records to anyone who'd listen.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Cracking the case of campus crime

(01/25/11 11:57pm)

Logically, records of crime on campus ought to be the easiest records for any journalist to obtain. Crime reports are among the only documents that are specifically subject to disclosure under both federal and state statutes. And yet, year after year, college journalists tell the SPLC that campus police departments are among the most recalcitrant when it comes to honoring requests for public records. Among the recurring obstacles reported by college journalists is the widespread misperception that police records can be withheld, or identifying information blacked out, because of student confidentiality laws.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Payday for university employees can pay off in newsworthy stories

(03/01/11 7:14pm)

Let's face it, we're all curious to know who's got the biggest one on campus. Salary, of course. What employees are paid at state colleges and universities is a matter of public record, and obtaining the information today often is as easy as an online search. As blogger Dan Reimold of College Media Matters reports, the University of Illinois' student newspaper, the Daily Illini, markedly increased its online traffic by adding the feature of an employee salary guide where, by depressing one button, debt-burdened students can depress themselves over football coach Ron Zook's $1.06 million salary. Many professional news websites offer state salary data searchable by the employee's name, title or function.