Sunshine Week daily news roundup – Thursday, March 19

The results of a multi-newsroom public records audit are in. Led by WRAL's public records team, six news outlets asked state and local government officials for the same documents to see how quickly different agencies complied. Also, the NFL files a lawsuit against court officials to get access to records in Greg Hardy case.

Today’s Sunshine Week news wrap kicks off with the results of a mulit-agency public records audit led by WRAL with newsrooms from Wilmington to Charlotte participating. The audit asked agency heads of state, municipal, and county agencies for copies of travel records. WRAL explains how the audit was conducted here. WRAL reports that some state agency heads had high travel costs, while others didn’t ask for any reimbursement of their travel expenses. They also report on the failure of Gov. Pat Mcrory’s and Lt. Gov. Dan Forrest’s offices to respond to the requests.

The News & Observer reports that some agencies, such as the City of Raleigh, filled the requests within hours while others took weeks. WECT reports on the travel expenses of UNCW’s chancellor, and the New Hanover schools superintendant here. Time Warner Cable News, The Fayetteville Observer and The Charlotte Observer participated in gathering data for the audit. 

The NFL filed a lawsuit Wednesday against several court officials, including Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray, in an effort to gain access to evidence in the Greg Hardy domestic violence trial. Hardy had a trial in district court and was convicted by a judge. He appealed to superior court, where the court treats the district court case as if it had not happened and the case is heard by a jury., The charges were dropped before a second trial. The NFL has been seeking access to records that were admitted into evidence in the first tiral.

The Daily Tar Heel reports on UNC Chapel Hill’s website now that it has been up and running for several months. Several transparency advocates suggested the website is a step in the right direction, but needs more work.

The MountainXPress writes about open government initiatives in Western North Carolina.


Daily Tar Heel Editor Jenny Surane writes that UNC Chapel Hill “should stop waiting on laws and lawsuits to tell them to release information. Instead, it should follow the spirit of the North Carolina public records law and remember that these documents are already the property of the people.”

The Pendulum at Elon University argues that video from police body-worn cameras should be public.

Len Clark of the Salisbury Post writes about the importance of local governments complying with the N.C. Open Meetings Law.