Reading and Assignments
● For Tuesday, Feb. 14
● Happy Valentine's Day
● -Complete public records request
● -Read TBT: Public records bill (link in module)
● -Do exam review
● For Thursday, Feb. 16
● Midterm exam
JOU 4181 Midterm Exam Review – Spring 2017
Intro, Chpts. 1-3 in “Elements”
Foreword, Chpts. 1-5 in “Access”
Articles in module
-How can public records benefit the public in general?
Initiates stories, confirm hunches, produce more meaningful questions for interviews and confront recalcitrant officials bent on secrecy. “FOOTPRINTS”
-Know the basic history of openness in Florida and the FOIA
“Florida began its tradition of openness back in 1909 with the passage of Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes or the “Public Records Law.” This law provides that any records made or received by any public agency in the course of its official business are available for inspection, unless specifically exempted by the Florida Legislature. Over the years, the definition of what constitutes “public records” has come to include not just traditional written documents such as papers, maps and books, but also tapes, photographs, film, sound recordings and records stored in computers.”
We also discuss several other topics like What is the meaning of the big bang?
Openness in Florida Public Records and Open meetings
· Is there a fixed time in which the agency needs to respond? No · Is there a limit on how much an agency can charge to fulfill a records request? No · How to appeal? Private Lawsuit
· Who can request records? Anyone We also discuss several other topics like What is the meaning of graying of america?
· Does the state allow trade secrets to be made public? No
· Is there a penalty? Yes-Up to 1 year in jail; or $1,000 fine; or both. · Is a pre-meeting agenda required for public meetings? No
· When is a meeting closed, must the purpose first be announced? Yes · Who is subject to open meeting laws? Government bodies
· If the meeting is deemed illegal, must any action there be voided? Yes · How to appeal? Private Lawsuit
· Who can appeal? State citizen
-Be able to cite the sections of the Florida Statutes and the Constitution that cover public records and open meetings
Article 1, Sec. 24, Florida Constitution. -- Public Records & Open Meetings -List five ways public records can help you as a reporter
Improve your stories, regain power of verification, put editors at ease, win awards, develop a new way of thinking. If you want to learn more check out What did hobbes consider as the three main causes of quarrel?
1. Records document the deeds and the misdeeds of officials great and small, chronicling the byways of government and memorializing our collective history, This will strengthen your stories, making them more valued by editors and readers.
2. Documents place the power of verification back in the people’s hands. With records, journalists realize that documents give them power, then a whole new world opens to them.
3. The law considers public records, such as police reports and court documents, to be privileged. As long as you quote the documents correctly, even if what you quotw makes someone look bad, you have more protection if your sued for libel.
-List/explain information you would look for in at least five public records 1. Court records: Assesses and summarizes individuals who were involved in court hearings that are not limited to subjects like speeding ticket violations and car accidents, etc.; 2. Criminal records: this shows the names of people who were arrested for crimes such as robbery, murder, reckless driving, etc.; 3. Marriage records: assesses who in Florida, for instance, is married, when the marriage license was signed and the duration of a marriage; 4. Economic Statistics: evaluates economic trends in both the local and state level; 5. Motor Vehicle Reports: documents crash reports, locates the owner of vehicles and previous owners, data for sale, stolen vehicles. Don't forget about the age old question of When did the iranian revolution start?
-Think of a few scenarios related to a story about a person. Which public records might be useful?
Say I wanted to write news features about Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his return to NASCAR competition, and one of the scenarios pertains to his time spent recovering from concussion-like symptoms -- I would look up medical records that illustrates Dale Jr.’s recovery progress and his tests showing no signs of CTE symptoms. Over the offseason, Dale Jr. married Amy Reimann on News Year’s Eve, which makes for a good news feature to write about, by including Dale and Amy’s marriage certificate from the North Carolina Department of Health because the marriage’s setting took place in Lexington. Say I wanted to write a story about Dale Jr. getting a speeding ticket in Texas while driving to a NASCAR race (the story already exists), I then look up Texas’ Circuit of the Clerk website to review court records of his case file, where he got pulled over for speeding, how fast he went over the required speed limit, etc.
-List at least three records or parts of records that are not public We also discuss several other topics like What will bring about the most utility?
All law enforcement body camera recordings, personal financial and health information, email addresses of taxpayers.
-What is an exemption? Information that is excluded from the public domain. How many exemptions are there in Florida? 9 Know some important ones Medical and birth
records, identity of parents who leave a newborn infant at a hospital or fire station, student educational records, etc.
-Define “public record.”
“any material prepared in connection with official agency business which is intended to perpetuate, communicate, or formalize knowledge of some type.” -Why is it important for journalists to know public records law? Journalists have an obligation to serve the people. To do that, information must be truthful, accurate and transparent without a hint of fabrication -- but understanding what records are public and not public gives writers the power of verification while establishing checks and balances in what goes on in government and business institutions -- to prevent corruption.
-When in the reporting process should you make public records requests? Figure 5.1: If denied verbally when asking for a public records request, and are told to submit a written request -- submit letter for approval. Don't forget about the age old question of What is supreme law of land?
-What should you do if an agency tells you a record is not public? List at least four steps you could take 1. Learn about where in the law it says a specific record is not public; 2. Make yourself open to corrections and persuasion; 3. End the conversation with a sincere compliment, no matter how it resolved; 4. Invent different options.
-List at least five types of records you can get from the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office Case files, Mortgage Foreclosures, Birth and Death Records, High Profile Cases, Administrative Orders
-Least at least five types of records you can get from MyFlorida.com 1. FCAT Test Scores; 2. Local and State Tax records; 3. People and Places; 4. Research and Statistics; 5. Transportation and Travel
-List at least five types of public records you should check when backgrounding/writing about political candidates 1. Birth Certificate; 2. Voting record(s); 3. Tax Returns; 4. Sponsored Bills/Laws; 5. Political campaign financial records
-List four important questions to ask when trying to figure out whether information is available through a public record 1. Who created the document and why? 2. Where was the information issued? 3. Who said the record is not public? 4. Is the information credible?
-Why is the date of birth important when examining public records? To make the finding and identifying of people a smooth process when writing up background. -What are retention schedules? Why are they important? · A records retention schedule is the cornerstone of an effective records management program. It is a policy document that defines an organization's legal and compliance recordkeeping requirements. A company implements a records retention schedule in order to ensure
that its records are kept as long as legally and operationally required and that obsolete records are disposed of in a systematic and controlled manner.
· Records retention schedules serve as a company's legal authority to retain and purge records and, therefore, hold great importance for a company. The records retention schedule captures all of the types of records created and used by a company in the course of its business and indicates how long these records are required to be retained.
-What information must you include in a public records request? (Be able to write one.) ● Address request to a specific person
● Purpose of the request
● Cite the relevant public records statute
● Ask for expedited review or copy fee waivers
● Provide contact information
-What questions should you ask when “interviewing” your documents? (p.72 Access)
Who wrote this document? When was the issue of date? What language do you speak? Where do you live? How did you get here?
Review the Sunshine Laws worksheets (know basics of the law)
Test Format: True/False, multiple choice, short answer and application/discussion (write a records request with information provided and be able to background a person or business). Also, be able to discuss topics from “Elements” related to our responsibilities as journalists.