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53 Federal Communications Law Journal 557 (2001)


After almost fifty years of unprecedented freedom, access to public records is under threat today at the state and federal level. Survey research and in-depth interviews of newspaper and television journalists show that public records are being obtained through several mechanisms, including databases. This Comment, together with its underlying study, illustrates that these databases are essential to developing certain stories, including some covering the most critical subjects: investigative reports, crime, and political stories. Therefore, this Comment argues, restricting access to public records has the potential to halt or substantially hinder the media’s ability to serve as a check on business and government.