Earlier this month, Fort Collins Coloradoan reporter Nick Coltrain won the First Amendment Award at the Society for Professional Journalists’ Top of the Rockies for a battle with Colorado State University. He wanted to know if there were inequities in pay between men and women — and discovered there were, but only after a lot of work. The school provided him with a printout of all the information — 150 pages of an Excel spreadsheet — rather than the files themselves.
Coltrain’s struggle to convert the printouts into something he could analyze prompted a battle about the public's right to access data. On April 25, a Senate Bill to require electronic records be made available where possible advanced by a 7 to 6 vote in the House Finance Committee.