About This Site

"Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."

– U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis

Our purpose

  • Educate both the public and public officials about public records law.
  • Make it simple for members of the public to request and receive records.
  • Increase government transparency. When it becomes easier for the public to see the work of government, the government becomes more accountable to the people.
  • Increase civic engagement. When we make it easier for citizens to see the work of government and conduct original research, we make it easier for them to participate in educated public discourse.

Why we did this

Government officials increasingly are conducting the public’s business in the shadows. Journalists and citizens are routinely denied even the most basic public records: city budgets and bids, law enforcement reports, court records. Many times, officials and citizens don’t understand or know the law around public records. Other times, officials know the law but create artificial reasons or delay tactics to deny releasing records. And often, records are denied because citizen and journalist requests are sent to the wrong source or agency, are too broad or are technically difficult to fulfill.

AZ Public Info is an innovative public service to help ease these issues. Assembled by the journalists at azcentral.com and made possible with funding from Arizona State University's Knight-Cronkite Alumni Innovation Award, it is a site that:

  • Creates a simple one-stop solution that links directly to public record custodians for state, county, law enforcement and school district public boards, bodies or agencies.
  • Provides easy-to-use templates and forms that allow members of the public to send appropriate records requests directly to these bodies, citing current law to educate all involved.
  • List common reasons that records may be rejected and offer the public strategies for overcoming these obstacles.

Our team

The AZ Public Info team, from left: Cherrill Crosby, Stephen Harding, Jessica Ramirez and Pat Flannery, May 13, 2016, in the studio at the Arizona Republic, 200 E. Van Buren Street, Phoenix, Arizona.

Dozens of journalists at azcentral.com contributed to the creation of AZPublicInfo.com. Creation of the site was overseen by (from left) News Watchdog Center Director Cherrill Crosby, Digital Producer Stephen Harding, News Assistant Jessica Ramirez and Government Accountability Editor Pat Flannery.

Special thanks

This site is possible thanks to a grant from Arizona State University's Knight-Cronkite Alumni Innovation Award, which awards ASU alumni up to $15,000 to spur innovation within newsrooms. More information on the grant can be found here.