Category Archives: Access

IPRA Hangouts For Journalists In Taos And Carlsbad

We’re taking our IPRA hangout series on the road. We’re inviting New Mexico journalists in these areas to compare notes on Inspection of Public Records Act requests, offer tips, generate story ideas, talk to experts and help hold local government accountable.

The motivation? Let’s use records to build good stories. And let’s find out about the experience other journalists have when they are seeking records—maybe even the same records we’re trying to obtain.

It’s informal and free, and you don’t have to be an SPJ member to attend.

For background; New Mexico Foundation for Open Government’s FAQ on this state sunshine law.


CARLSBAD

Friday, July 21, 2017, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Marion’s Restaurant at 106 W Bonbright Street, 88220


TAOS

Thursday, July 27, 2017, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Gorge Bar and Grill at 103 E Plaza, 87571


Share these square, web-friendly fliers around and help spread the word:

 

Statement for Rio Grande Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists

Re: APD public criticism of local news media

The Albuquerque Police Department public information office, which is resorting to more direct social media feeds and bypassing journalists in the process, this week called KOB TV “irresponsible” for obtaining video of a police crash and sharing the footage.

The local chapter of SPJ takes exception to this specific criticism and this general trend in which APD has made critical statements against the media.

KOB obtained the video legitimately and had every right to use it. The police department has a lot of gall to ask for what amounts to a favor from the media after consistently showing so much disrespect for our critical role in society and for the people we’re working to inform and educate. The video showed a crash involving a public employee that led to serious injuries. Broadcasting such a video is in the public interest.

The Albuquerque Police Department’s record on transparency would be laughable if it didn’t have such a serious impact on the people it purports to serve. The department frequently withholds recordings made by its own officers as it sees fit, releasing video and other public records only if they serve the interests of APD and its administrators. Public records requests are routinely delayed for months, or worse, simply ignored. This is against the law. That APD would have the temerity to demand that a news organization release video not yet obtained by the department despite its considerable resources is an insult.

The APD is free to tweet and post whatever they like, but resorting to social media and bypassing journalists is a practice our chapter opposes because it cuts out the role of journalists — who are stand ins for the public — to ask questions of powerful officials about policies, news, etc. That’s propaganda, not transparency.

Albuquerque Journal:  Facebook is APD’s megaphone

Gray Skies: Big Black Squares

By Marisa Demarco

There are two ways a campus sexual assault can be investigated: 1) criminally and by police, which may lead to a trial in months or years down the line 2) administratively by a university, which could lead to a student being suspended or expelled.

People who’d been sexually assaulted at the University of New Mexico came to me with stories about how the long, confusing administrative investigation left them feeling vulnerable, and in some cases, unable to finish school. In some instances, the reporting process itself, they told me, put them in jeopardy. They said the system re-traumatized survivors of sexual assault.

The federal Office of Civil Rights says administrative university investigations should take 60 days. But I was hearing from my sources that these were going on for way longer than that.

I started looking for numbers. How many cases spilled over that 60-day timeframe and how long did they drag on? Students were telling me cases dragged on for more than a year sometimes. UNM said it was an average of only 90 days.

I put in an IPRA request for timeline information. I tailored my request so identity was not part of the information I sought, only dates. Pages and pages of black squares came to my inbox. The documents were so heavily redacted, I couldn’t make heads or tails of them.

Many of the students I spoke with did not want to be used in any reporting I did. Person after person would explain that speaking out could lead to a lot of trouble within their academic program or could be a traumatizing experience.

And the university, though willing to speak generally about the process for investigating civil rights complaints, didn’t sufficiently respond to student allegations that UNM’s investigations interfered with their ability to finish school.

Using expert sources, I still reported on the core issue and what’s at stake for students. KUNM aired a series before and after the Department of Justice released its report on how UNM handles sexual assault.


Marisa Demarco is a radio reporter with KUNM News and an SPJ Rio Grande board member.


It’s Sunshine Week, which is all about your right to know.  We’ll be rolling out all kinds of content on this site and on social media. This “Gray Skies” series will look at instances when officials, agencies and public institutions not transparent and evaded the disinfecting power of sunlight.