First stretch goal down! Next up: public records and data.
Colorado, just six days into our Kickstarter campaign, you helped us to reach not only our original funding goal but to also blow past our first stretch goal. The 500 people who supported The Colorado Sun during this stretch goal raised $30,407 that we will use to boost our existing budget for photographers, data-visualization experts and illustrators to help tell Colorado’s stories.
So for stretch goal No. 2, we are focusing on an issue that faces any news outlet looking to uncover and share public state, local or federal data: records requests.
How government fees, research charges keep public data in the shadows
While most forms of data and records are legally available to the public, in practice governments will often use the threat of prohibitive legal fees and excessive research charges — that can range into the thousands of dollars — to scare news organizations off of the data.
Let’s let Jeff Roberts of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition explain (emphasis ours):
“Access to public records is the key to holding government accountable at all levels, from the school district to the state Capitol. But public records aren't always public, as odd as that sounds, because of wrongful denials and exorbitant fees. The cost of obtaining public records shouldn't be a barrier to pursuing an important story, but too often it is. And sometimes a legal battle is the only way to get records, but it takes a lot of resources to go to court.”
Our new goal
The money raised by the next 500 supporters of our Kickstarter will spearhead our fight for public records that can expose everything from misuse of public funds to how governments make decisions, and to help establish the underpinnings of stories that are going untold around Colorado. Plus, we’ll make a contribution — and maybe you’ll consider a separate donation — to the CFOIC for the essential work they do on the open records front.
Beyond your financial contribution, we’d love to hear your suggestions for stories that could arise from the kinds of deep data searches we’ll undertake. Have an idea? Email us at email@example.com.
A special thanks to everyone who has backed us so far
And to show our thanks and appreciation to everyone who has supported us so far, we’re tossing a Colorado Sun sticker to all backers who want one!
(Housekeeping note for those concerned: We won’t send you anything until you tell us your preference. So if you’d like to opt out, or get a different type of merch, you’ll have your chance then).
Please help us spread the word so we can shine a brighter light on government.