Every day, city council and school board meetings across the country generate endless agendas, minutes and supplementary material, with the intent of keeping the public in the know about what their public officials are doing. Thanks to public meetings laws, the live-action sibling of public records laws, everyone is entitled to these materials, but it is hard to keep track of it all or know which documents will be critical to understanding your community.
Last week, Big Local News launched Agenda Watch to tackle this problem, and if you already have a MuckRock account, you are all set to give it a try with your existing credentials — just head over to agendawatch.org and click “Login” or click the Agenda Watch logo from accounts.muckrock.com.
The Big Local News team built Agenda Watch’s account management on top of MuckRock’s account service, meaning that there’s one less account for you to manage and the tool can take advantage of verifying if you are part of a newsroom while helping you more seamlessly collaborate with colleagues. In the future, we also hope to make it easier to manage projects across these federated services and provide seamless integration for all your reporting and researching, no matter which part of the process you’re in.
The platform currently hosts documents from a small group of agencies in four regions: Atlanta/Georgia, Philadelphia/Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. We plan to scale to many more states and agencies over the next few months, but we invite you to explore the site now to get familiar with the features. From our homepage you can search for documents containing keywords or phrases such as “affordable housing”, “crime”, “environmental cleanup” — basically any topic relevant to your beat or interests. You can limit searches by place from the home page as well.
We’re excited to collaborate with Big Local News to bring Agenda Watch to more newsrooms, particularly since public meetings are so critical for local transparency and access. Read more about the platform or give it a try yourself today.
If Agenda Watch doesn’t already cover your agency or area, fill out this form so they can consider it for their priority list for scraping. Or if you want to chat with the team behind Agenda Watch, please reach out @BigLocalNews or via email.
Agenda Watch is the fifth standalone service integrated into MuckRock’s account system, which helps over 105,898 registered users across over 4,000 newsrooms obtain, analyze and publish primary source materials in the public interest. If you run or are thinking about running an open source journalism or transparency service and are interested in collaborating, or want to help support a powerful ecosystem that helps inform and engage the public, reach out to us at email@example.com.