Ignorance about public records


This week, the topic of public records and the information people can gather by looking at these documents came up in not just one but two of my classes. By just logging in online, a person can find out if you own a house, if the house is paid off, what kind of car you have, your tag number, any criminal charges against you, whether you own a gun and much more.

The thought that so much of your personal information is available online for anyone to see can be a little daunting. I know I think it is, even though I know I have nothing to hide.

The uses of these tools for a journalist are invaluable to finding out basic background information before delving further into a story. Some people just fail to realize that this is all public information and become upset when certain information, such as a map of all the gun permits in their area, is published.

Despite the fact that it’s scary to think your information is open to anyone, I think the use of public records to gain more knowledge on a story is a great tool. It can lead to new information in a story that you wouldn’t be able to find otherwise and can give a great background toward any kind of story.