Public Record Project Requirements

Capstone - Summer 2017

The overarching point of these projects is to provide a useful how-to guide on obtaining and using different types of public records in a journalistic manner. These pieces, then, need to be as clear and detailed as possible. Screenshots are encouraged, but it will be up to your individual editor as to what items are used, and he or she may ask for additional assets or other types of information.

Below are the items you need to include (in order) as well as my expectations on the length of each section.

NAME: Everyone involved in the overall piece

TOPIC: The type of public records being looked at

SUMMARY: (Min 300 words) Additional detail on the public record topic. What types (or subtypes) are going to be discussed and why are they useful in a journalistic setting. In addition, you need at least one human source (for example: professional journalist, academic, spokesperson, etc.) explaining or opining on its journalistic importance.

HOW-TO: (Min 300 words) A step-by-step guide on how a journalist (or anyone) can obtain and use these particular records. Where does one go, who do they need to speak to, and how long will it take to get them. I want this to be as detailed as possible. Is there a particular window or computer terminal in a particular room on a particular floor? Yes? Put that in.

As this is journalism, remember this all needs to be SOURCED. If the clerk at the courthouse tells you need to fill out the blue form instead of the yellow one to get the probate records, get her name. If there is a note above the forms stating you need the yellow one, note that in your piece. Ask everyone you can about the best ways to get these records and add in as much detail as you can.

EXAMPLE: (Min 300 words) You need to include a minimum of two stories that have utilized this type of public record. Reach out to the reporters and editors involved and ask them questions about how they found and used this particular record for the story being referenced. In addition, ask how they used this type of record to seek out and report on future stories. Finally, ask them if they have any concrete tips on seeking out and using this type of record.

MULTIMEDIA: In addition to the text parts above, your piece must include a multimedia aspect. This can be (among others): A video (less than two minutes), photo essay (seven to 15 images), an audio piece or interview (less than five minutes) or a visualization. The multimedia aspect must ADD to the overall piece, not simply restate the same information in a different form.

BUDGET LINES: For administrative and planning reasons, reporters are responsible for submitting a budget line for each project. This includes a summary of the piece, the people involved, deadline and the different assets editors are expecting. Here is an example:

Topic: State Civil Courts (Broward and Miami-Dade)
Reporters: Olga Castro & Alex Toldeo
Summary: A look at the public records available in the state courts (that is, not federal) in South Florida’s biggest counties. Includes information about and how-to guides for obtaining records related limited and unlimited civil jurisdiction cases as well as small claims, probate and family court. Includes interviews with Miami Herald reporters on use of these records and tips on how to turn this raw information into compelling journalistic work.
Multimedia: graphic showing the steps a plaintiff has to go through to get his or her money following a successful lawsuit. Includes explanation of how this information might be useful journalistically.
Words: 1,200
Deadline (draft): June 29 @ 9 am
Deadline (final): July 5 @ 1 pm


AGENDA – Senior Capstone – June 20, 2017
Public Records Project URL

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