Looking forward to the future of journalism

Perry’s perks, tax protests, and bad PR

San Antonio Express-News front page for Sunday, July 26, 2009

Today’s front page of the San Antonio Express-News was dominated by stories that all relied on public records:

  • Karisa King analyzed a public database that tracks property tax disputes in Bexar County. “Everybody wants lower property taxes. But those with the least ability to pay rarely protest their appraised values, while owners of upscale homes are far more inclined to fight their bills.”
  • Melissa Ludwigg used public records found at the courthouse and through an open records request to uncover “an embarrassing public relations problem” at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
  • R.G. Ratcliffe at the Houston Chronicle examined Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s disclosure statements. “On the dollars of taxpayers and wealthy donors, Gov. Rick Perry — reared amid the cotton fields of West Texas — gets to live the life of the rich and famous, traveling the world meeting captains of industry, sports stars and royalty.”
  • Related: How to send documents to an investigative reporter

    These stories are a shining example of the value of public records — they help reporters, bloggers and the public discover new information.