Radius Reader: Police transparency’s gray areas, journo/design and Obama press problems


by Margaret Wright

As the clock ticks down on our APD Files crowdfunding deadline, the Columbia Journalism Review profiled the campaign as part of its United States Project centered on “politics, policy and the press.”

From the article:

What separates the Compass project from most is its plan for the money: creating a database of records it has gathered, rather than gathering the records in the first place. To reach that goal through Indiegogo, it will need a surge soon—the month-long campaign, which ends Oct. 15, is less than 10 percent of the way toward its target of $9,375. The Compass will receive all funds raised even if the campaign doesn’t reach its target, and the lion’s share will be used to hire a database developer. 

A related piece in the CJR series recently looked into complexities surfacing in Colorado where public records of police work, particularly body cam footage, became the focus of accountability measures:

Widespread use of the cameras is a relatively new phenomenon, and there don’t appear to be any disputes yet over access to the footage. But the varying policies being announced around the state are a reminder of something transparency advocates and media watchdogs have often complained about: Law enforcement officials here have broad discretion to withhold information that in other states might be public, and the courts take a deferential attitude to decisions made by local departments. 

Discussions regarding the public interest tied to transparency in public security measures extend to other national/international policy realms. A former CIA operative guest-blogged last week at the Freedom of the Press Foundation (a nonprofit “dedicated to helping support and defend public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption, and law-breaking in government”) in support of a federal judge’s order requiring that recordings of prisoner force-feedings at Guantanamo be released.

It might not be a bad idea to ask whether a policy we can only be comfortable with by keeping it secret and obscuring it with strained euphemisms is such a great idea.

Among other items we’re combing through: