As part of an observance of the Indiana Coalition for Open Government’s 20th year of advocating for public access, ICOG joined with its administrative partner, The Media School at Indiana University, to put together this report on the status of digital access at the local level in Indiana.

A team of graduate student reporters from The Media School explored the effectiveness of email requests for public records, whether requesters can easily to obtain records in electronic format and the ability of requesters to use their own equipment – specifically cell phone cameras – to make copies of public records.

In 1997, members of ICOG (then known as FOIndiana) served as resources and sources as seven Indiana newspapers launched the nation’s first statewide audit of public records. The series revealed that many public officials in Indiana were ignorant of state records laws and there were few consequences for those in violation.

This project was undertaken in the spirit of that 1997 audit and uncovered similar barriers to citizen access to public records. To read the findings, click through the stories below.

Main Story: Digital Access Less than Ideal in Indiana

Sidebar: Hiding Behind HIPAA

Sidebar: Of Search Warrants and Cell Phone Cameras

ICOG Brief: Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act

ICOG Brief: Access to Officials’ Email in Indiana

The student journalists who designed, reported and wrote these stories were Craig Lyons, Samim Arif and DeJuan Foster, who are completing their M.A. work at The Media School. They prepared the project as part of an independent study in investigative reporting under supervision of Assistant Professor Gerry Lanosga, who is also the current president of ICOG. Click here to read The Media School news release about this project.