The Story Behind the Stories

Why These Stories?

In selecting the Top 30 stories for inclusion in this project, the selection committee considered the following factors:

  1. Type of Information

Was the information requested ordinary or something different? Was the information widely known to be open? Was the information novel in nature? Did the information influence the everyday life of an ordinary citizen?

  1. Process of Requests

What was the level of ease or difficulty in requesting the documents used in the story? Did the reporter have to submit several requests? Did the request require working with an agency known to be difficult? Did the reporter have to take special steps to acquire the information?

  1. Depth of Information

Was the information that was received, and or sought, in-depth or shallow in detail? Did the information requested go beyond general knowledge, information easily accessible by citizens? Did the story seek information that is deeply hidden?

  1. Persistence of the Reporter

How persistent did the reporter have to be to acquire the information? Did the reporter easily receive the information, or was there a need to make an argument that the documents were public record? This factor did not have to include litigation or the intervention of attorneys to be successful.

  1. Relevance of Story

What was the story’s importance and possible impact on the community? Was the story based on a topic that is of great interest? Is it a story that helped the publication’s target audience, surrounding cities, or the entire state?

  1. Community Perception and Impact

How did the community perceive and react to the information in the story? Did citizens demand further information from the government? Did community members file complaints as a result of the story? How did the community affect the reporting? How present are community members in the story?

  1. Government Response

How did the government respond to the story? Did the government make any changes to policy or practices following the story? Did government officials make statements about any problems noted in the story? Did legislation result from the report’s findings?

  1. Ability to Motivate and Inspire

How is the story perceived today, and can it still have an impact? How can the story impact and encourage others to be active access advocates? Can the story inspire future stories?