Looking forward to the future of journalism

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

New book and blog: The Art of Access

The Art of Access

If you’ve ever had to deal with a government agency that tried to withhold public documents from you, check out Steve Myers’ interview with one of the authors of a new book and blog, “The Art of Access.” Instead of focusing on the intricacies of open-records laws, David Cuillier and Charles Davis write about the … Read more