Articles and Documents about Open Government

Making Sure We Keep the Light On

Connie Ledoux Book
Sunshine Center, Elon University

The history of newspapers has two points of entry that all journalism students are taught; the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg and the beginnings of a literate middle class in the late 1600s. The two attributes made the exchange of ideas possible and those ideas would launch revolutions and give way to democracy.

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want: A Look at North Carolina’s Public Records Law

Thomas H. Moore
North Carolina Law Review Association

“Every government is run by liars,” I.F. Stone, the iconoclastic journalist, once observed. Stone meant that if United States citizens do not keep a close watch on the officials who manage their federal, state and local governments, then all sorts of mischief can occur. In the age of the administrative state — an era in which unelected bureaucrats make major governmental decisions behind closed doors — citizens can keep a watchful eye on their governments only if they have access to the records that document such decisions. Thus, the federal government, all fifty states, and the District of Columbia have enacted freedom of information laws. Although these laws differ substantially in scope, all provide some access to records of law enforcement agencies, government spending matters, land transfers, tax assessments, government economic development activities, civil and criminal lawsuits, and charges by licensing boards against doctors, lawyers and other professionals. All states also provide access to records of births and deaths, as well as reports about known health hazards, such as toxic waste sites.

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