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Blog: Journalists, others shine light on open government

Posted March 17

— North Carolina journalists, government officials and community members are gathered at Elon University today, celebrating Sunshine Week and the public's right to open government. WRAL.com is live streaming and blogging the event:

3:08 p.m. - "Clean data is just as important as open data," says Ryan Thornburg.

2:59 p.m. - "Open data needs to be ruthlessly commercial," says Jason Hare, founder of the N.C. Open Data Institute.

2:47 p.m. - Ryan Thornburg talks about Open N.C., an index of public data at the county and state level. "Nothing exists like this in North Carolina," he says.  

2:45 p.m. - Next session: Open Data in North Carolina

  • Ryan Thornburg, founder, Open N.C. and professor at UNC School of Journalism
  • Jason Hare, founder, North Carolina Open Data Institute
  • Moderator: William Moner, Elon University

2 p.m. - Laura Leslie says her wish-list for state government coverage includes: video of both sessions all the time, putting bill summaries online, committee drafts of bills made available before committee meetings. "The public shouldn’t see (committee drafts) before the lawmakers do? ... Why can’t the public see it?" says Laura Leslie.

1:55 p.m. - "It seems like getting audio in all the committee rooms would be a good start," says WRAL Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie.

1:40 p.m. - John Clark, director of Reese News Lab at UNC School of Journalism, says his students have created something called Capitol Hound, a searchable audio archive and alert system for N.C. General Assembly floor sessions and committee meetings.

1:30 p.m. - Next up: Shining Light on the Legislature: Panel discussion of efforts to bring transparency to Jones Street

  • Brent Laurenz, executive director, N.C. Voter Education Center
  • John Clark, director, Reese News Lab at UNC School of Journalism
  • Laura Leslie, capitol reporter, WRAL
  • Moderator: Connie Ledoux Book, Elon University

1:16 p.m. - Waldo Jaquith, founder of the U.S. Open Data Institute, says there's a theory, "If you release the data, the geeks will come and do things with it."

1:08 p.m. - "Government is slowly getting in the habit of producing open data because it makes it easier for them to share it (with others in the agency)," says Jaquith.

1:03 p.m. - "We need to start regarding every FOIA request as a failure of government," says Jaquith. Government should already have that information available. You shouldn't have to ask for it. 

12:57 p.m. - "Open data is everywhere ... (it's) where you don't expect it," such as stock markets, says Jaquith.

12:50 p.m. - Waldo Jaquith, founder of the U.S. Open Data Institute, is talking about the importance of open weather data. Open data goes back to the early National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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