Looking forward to the future of journalism

WOAI fought long battle to obtain TxDOT’s auto-accident data

Wrong way signWOAI featured a unique, data-driven story last week about the high number of accidents caused by inattentive drivers talking on their cell phones. Journalists at the television station analyzed an accident database kept by the Texas Department of Transportation that tracks contributing factors for all vehicle crashes in Texas.

To get the story, WOAI had to fight a lengthy open-records battle with TxDOT. During their legal dispute, TxDOT took the unusual step of asking a state senator to write a bill that, in its original form, would have kept the entire database private.

The dispute between WOAI and TxDOT is a telling example of how difficult it can be to get important information out to the public. In some cases, it’s a long, expensive slog — it took nearly two years for WOAI to get its hands on the data.

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Reporter’s notebook: What to do when someone tries to hide the truth from you

WOAI’s Brian Collister, the investigative television reporter often seen shoving a fuzzy microphone in the faces of fleeing public officials, has a new blog at mySA. Brian is one of the few TV reporters in town who actually digs through records and analyzes public data. One of my favorite stories by Brian features a skillful … Read more