Looking forward to the future of journalism

Must reads: Texas watchdog journalism roundup for Nov. 19, 2017

Press conference at Sutherland Springs

The latest investigative stories in Texas that uncovered hidden facts and held officials accountable:

Apple served with search warrant in Sutherland Springs shooting | The San Antonio Express-News

Texas Rangers investigating the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs have served a search warrant on Silicon Valley giant Apple Inc. and are seeking digital photos, messages, documents and other types of data that might have been stored by gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, who was found with an iPhone after he killed himself. Read more …

How to find and analyze tax records of charities: The IRS 990 form explained

Texas Highway Patrol Museum

The Texas Highway Patrol Museum was a weird place. It used to sit on a busy street corner near downtown San Antonio. Yet whenever I drove by, I hardly ever saw anyone inside. More than once I wondered, what’s the deal? I found the answers in the IRS Form 990 — the publicly available tax … Read more

Insightful FOIA tips from ‘FOIA terrorist’ Jason Leopold at NICAR 2016

Jason Leopold of Vice News

It’s impossible to say enough good things about NICAR 2016, a journalism conference in Denver where more than a thousand attendees honed their data-wrangling skills. NICAR is all about finding good stories in data. But what stood out for me was a talk by investigative reporter Jason Leopold of Vice News about using the Freedom … Read more

How to keep a secret if you’re a crooked politician in Texas

County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson

Hand it to Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson — his feud with the Texas Attorney General and the San Antonio Express-News is, at the very least, exposing a flaw in the state’s open-records law. Adkisson doesn’t want to release private e-mails in which he discussed public business. The attorney general’s office told him he has … Read more

Government official shocked — shocked! — when public data is posted online

Texas state officials surprised when public data is posted online by John Tedesco Karisa King and I were cleaning our corner of the newsroom last week, and I rediscovered this gem of an e-mail written by an official for the Texas Department of Insurance. The state agency oversees the amusement-ride industry. When a patron is … Read more

Reporter’s notebook: Tips for putting together the pieces of a puzzling, complex story

Jigsaw puzzle

On March 26, City Hall reporter Josh Baugh got an adrenaline-pumping tip: FBI agents had seized files at the office of Fernando De León, a city official who reviewed permits for real estate development in San Antonio. The tip sparked a frantic series of phone calls that afternoon as Josh and I tried to figure … Read more

A new Web site for Freedom of Information

In the process of blogging about WOAI’s open-records battle with the Texas Department of Transportation, I had a chance to revisit the Web site set up by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. The foundation has completely revamped its old, sleepy site — check out how it looked as recently as 2008 in the … Read more