Day 77: Be granted access to government documents

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

One of the stories I am required to write in my first quarter is a “numbers story.” That means I have to take some sort of local data set, do some calculations and write a story about my findings.

Unfortunately, finding local data about health and/or food has not been easy. It turns out that hospitals don’t like to release internal documents, and the villages we cover are so small that they don’t have anyone to keep track of stats like how many people in the village have caught swine flu.

BUT I discovered that the village of Niles Health Department keeps charts on restaurants that have been dinged for health code violations. BINGO! Only problem was that to get the documents I had to fill out an official Freedom of Information Act Request Form. I was going to get lost in a bureaucratic M.C. Escher lithograph.

Well ladies and gentlemen, today I was approved. So guess who is going to write one scandalous story about Niles health code violations?

ME.

I bet you’re wondering why I published this so early. That’s because I’m going to the 12:01 a.m. viewing of Harry Potter at Old Orchard Mall tonight, and I’m going to be far too tired to write about my awesome FOIA victory when I get home. I’m out.

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