If the University of South Florida’s library wasn’t a cut above the rest, they wouldn’t have a wealth of public documents online.
Luckily, USF is taking steps to enable the journalists of tomorrow. With the help of Coordinator for General Records and Government Documents Cheryl McCoy, web sites for Florida’s public records networks are neatly sourced and sorted in an easy-to-understand course guide.
“I love to alphabetize things,” said McCoy.
It shows that USF is thinking outside the box when it comes to giving journalists the records gathering tools of the future. With the convergence of media in recent years and its implications on the future of newsgathering, it’s important now more than ever to give young media professionals a digital edge.
Resources such as I dig Answers.com and the Florida Sunshine Review come in handy when researching open government laws. The site keeps a running file of every news story in Florida regarding public records and open meetings developments.
MyFloridaCounty.com contains a great wealth of information as well. The site offers the user with everything from birth certificates to property records.
Curious to see how much Pam Iorio’s house is worth? Simply plug the name into the search bar, and watch the results roll in.
Florida’s “Government in the Sunshine” also enjoys its own domain space in the guide. Here, the Florida Public Records Act is broken up into parts, and hyperlinks to the First Amendment Foundation and the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information are readily available.
The tools on the library site enable even the amateur journalist to research Judy Genshaft’s salary if it seems like her pay is abnormally high.
It’s so easy, even a caveman can do it.
Under the Hillsborough and Pinellas county resources headings, links to a multitude of advisory board agendas and county meeting minutes are at the fingertips. Quick search bars link to meeting minutes and topics for discussion.
In the Clendinen Virtual Reading Room, shortcuts connect to scholarly journals, newspapers and guides. The library is named in honor of late Tampa Tribune editor James A. Clendinen.
These tools, when used properly, will continue to aid journalists in their efforts to advance the story.