Supreme Court ruling on public records not good news for journalists
The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a ruling on June 28 that wasn’t what journalists in Oklahoma were hoping to here. Database Editor Paul Monies did a great job with his story in explaining the issue and offering some of the key background information.
The issue at hand is whether or not the dates of birth of state employees should be a matter of public record and subject to the Open Records Act.
At issue were requests under the Open Records Act by The Oklahoman — and later the Tulsa World — for state employee information. Among the records requested were birth dates, employee identification numbers, salary, tenure and job title.
The Oklahoman is in favor of open records and open government. Speak with any reporter in our newsroom, and they’ll share a story or two of the hoops they’ve had to jump through throughout their careers to get public information from government agencies. That public information, by the way, is the same information that should be available to all citizens.
Those reporters and editors feel they are standing up for all citizens in seeking government records that, by law, are available for all citizens to see. That information ranges from email records to travel expenses of public officials to government contracts to jail records to court records to a wide variety of information on ways the government is spending taxpayer money. In this case, dates of birth of state employees became a hot topic.
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