August 5, 2015 Update: The particular problem I was dealing with has been resolved. I wish I could credit the people and agencies responsible, but I think it is better that I be discreet. The good news is that there are good people willing to help. I will try to be less cynical in the future.
August 4, 2015
I’m trying to get press releases from a public agency without success.
I help write an accident blog for an East coast attorney. My company takes information to write the blog, with credit, from various news outlets around the state he works in. But where does the media get their information? It’s true that the larger media groups do some independent investigating, but all outfits routinely take vital facts and figures from Highway Patrol press releases.
In his state, the Highway Patrol issues accident press releases only to media companies they recognize. The public must trust, therefore, that these news outlets are reporting accurately since groups like mine do not have access to the original documents. We must also hope that the media company is reporting in a timely fashion, and, most importantly, that they are reporting about an accident to begin with. Why is this so?
Why can’t everyone get the same information at the same time? This is 2015. We don’t need the media to filter the facts. I am not requesting any information from a normally closed police report, instead, I am trying to get material produced by a public agency acting of their own volition. Just to make clear, the attorney’s company does not use any information received to contact anybody named in any release. The law, good ethics, and a respect for privacy prohibit such soliciting.
Why should the government share information only with those they deem fit? It’s time to treat all requestors equally. Or don’t release the information at all.
(Please note. I write responsibly. Like this newspaper article I did about the California Highway Patrol (internal link))