Gisela Fischer

Dear fellow journalists: I’ve been preparing the public records for publication for the Evansville Courier & Press since ‘O8, as a “stringer,” or contract worker. Adding injury to insult (I’ve been unsuccessful in securing additional work, and haven’t had an increase in my pay since I started), it takes more time and effort to get a legible copy of the deaths from the health department, and a complete set of divorces from the county recorder, than it did when I started. Can anyone offer me any advice, tips, or tell me how it’s done in other community papers? Is it perhaps becoming a national trend to block the efforts of the news media to provide the public with easy access to public records? Public servants in this town seem to have forgotten that they are answerable to the voters, not to a clique of politicians. I’ve had some experience attempting to secure information (account books) from the local HUD agency - with no success - during a short stint writing for a local independent paper, The City-County Observer. I had an easier time working in Boonville, Ind., for Brehm Communications, in the early ‘90’s, in terms of access to records. Is it changing times, or are agencies in Evansville/Vanderburgh County uncharacteristically closed to reporters? Either they didn’t teach us much about gathering public records when I attended classes in Ernie Pyle Hall, or I wasn’t paying attention the day they covered it.

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