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March 20, 2005


Casey Moore

When I was a reporter, it was never the official meetings we had problems getting into. It was the unofficial meetings and talks we heard about, but could either never find a way to access or didn't hear about it until it was way too late. But that is a small town for you.

I hope the paper's publishers and editors help the reporters and back them all the way, otherwise the governements will get away with keeping the business of the people away fromt he people.


The key to this is in the failure of North Carolina to anticipate this situation. The law is often unclear and situations often are not always what legislators expected. When the only avenue to clarifying the meaning of data practices laws is the courtroom, you can expect such heavy-handed governmental response. Far better would be an independent state-level disclosure advocate to make non-judicial rulings on access; then the municipality or other entitity who continues to object can go to court against the state, not against the citizens exercising their prerogative to gain access to data.

I believe Minnesota has done this successfully for decades. Most, but not all, decisions favor the citizen or reporter, but both sides can make their case without the expense and antagonism of a trial.

Brian Baute

I'm a Burlington resident, and one of the interesting aspects of the Burlington case is the role of truly local media. The Alamance News is a small weekly paper, but intensely local. It is dwarfed in size and circulation by the Times-News, owned by California-based Freedom Communications. As far as I can tell (disclaimer: I'm not a subscriber or frequent reader of either the Times-News or Alamance News) the non-locally-owned Times-News hasn't taken a strong stand on this issue one way or the other, but the very local Alamance News has been a bulldog on this issue for several years. The power of truly local media.

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