Methods behind a statewide audit of public records access in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — News organizations and the Ohio Coalition for Open Government joined together on an audit to check access to public records in Ohio. A similar audit was conducted in 2004.

Journalists from newspaper, television and radio stations throughout Ohio served as auditors in all 88 counties. The audit began April 21 and was completed in several days in most counties.

Journalists were trained in how to phrase records requests and record their findings. They were assigned to locations where they wouldn't be recognized, and they didn't identify themselves as journalists so they would have the same experience as a typical citizen seeking public records. Media lawyers reviewed the records requests to ensure that they were clearly in the public domain.

The auditors were recruited from media outlets that are members of the Ohio Newspaper Association and the Ohio Association of Broadcasters. The audit was overseen by the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

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