May 23, 2015


Latest News

Red River students find info far from free

Want to check the maintenance records of Winnipeg School Division playgrounds for the last three years? That will be $2,714.25, please.

That's how the division responded to a recent request from three Red River College journalism students.

Red River College Creative Communications instructor Duncan McMonagle with his journalism class.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Red River College Creative Communications instructor Duncan McMonagle with his journalism class. Photo Store

For the fourth annual Open Secrets, a freedom-of-information project sponsored by the Winnipeg Free Press, the students followed the process available to anyone under Manitoba's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

One group requested copies of monthly playground inspection reports and incident reports from 2009 to 2011.

Shocked by the bill, the students declined to pay it, and therefore the division did not have to provide the information.

Instead, the students requested details about a machine designed to test playground equipment, only to learn it is broken and in storage. For further details on that, the school division requested $593.

Rather than paying, the students pursued traditional, no-cost interviews and still uncovered a story.

It could have been worse. During last year's Open Secrets project, students who asked how many children have been injured on City of Winnipeg playgrounds received a bill for 10 times as much -- more than $26,000.

This year, Free Press city hall reporter Jen Skerritt and Wendy Sawatzky, the paper's associate editor for digital news, briefed the students on the legislation, then guided them in filing their requests and following up. Skerritt helped refine their stories, while Sawatzky helped them create maps, charts and sidebars for informative and appealing presentations.

When government departments did not provide the requested information, students negotiated with the departments' freedom-of-information co-ordinators.

Most were helpful, complying with the legal requirement to "make every reasonable effort to assist an applicant and to respond without delay, openly, accurately and completely."

Duncan McMonagle teaches journalism in the creative communications program at Red River College

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 25, 2012 A6

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Winnipeg Free Press | @WinnipegNews

May 23 12:08 pm

ATU Local 1505 prez John Callahan says union is happy with tentative deal; more details at 1:15 pm newser. Our story: wfp.to/RTe

Winnipeg Free Press | @WinnipegNews

May 23 11:54 am

Transit director Dave Wardrop will hold a 1:15pm news conference to discuss the deal with ATU. #wpgpoli #wpgcouncil

Dan Lett | @danlett

May 23 11:48 am

Saturday column: Where is next the Orange Wave? - via @WinnipegNews shar.es/1rEoRI #cdnpoli

Aldo Santin | @aldosantin

May 23 11:33 am

Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop holding 1:15 pm newser to discuss new deal w/ATU 1505, 421 Osborne #wpgpoli #wpgcouncil

Winnipeg Free Press | @WinnipegNews

May 23 11:28 am

Andretti family brushes off so-called curse at Indianapolis wfp.to/RT2

Scroll down to load more

Top