MuckRock City

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  November 17, 2010

"MuckRock removes the aspect of my having to go to city hall, and having workers there perceive it as if I'm accusing them of something," says Tom Nash, managing editor of the popular hyper-local-news site postsomerville.com. Using MuckRock, Nash recently retrieved 2009 campaign-finance reports for the mayor of Somerville and the city's Board of Aldermen. "We're going to look for the top donors and search for ties between them and contracts that are given out. It's certainly not the Somerville way, but now they can be as upset with me as they want, because I don't have to deal with them directly."

Moving forward, Morisy and Kotler are applying for a coveted Knight Foundation News Challenge grant to help them expand their reach and dedicate more time to spelunking and networking. The Knight Center's news site took notice of the food-stamp imbroglio, and MuckRock has partnered with another News Challenge winner, DocumentCloud, which they use for remote data search and storage. They were also recently awarded a $5000 grant from the influential Sunlight Foundation for transparency in government, and were fortunate to have an army of First Amendment attorneys catch their back on the food-stamp defensive.

"At this point, I think the legal issue will blow over," says Morisy. "But it's still interesting, because all of a sudden people got very interested in what we're doing. I didn't expect for this to happen, but as a journalist myself, I know what a pain it is to file FOIA requests and deal with the whole process. That's why we focus on the muck work — so that reporters can focus on writing good and compelling stories."

Chris Faraone can be reached at cfaraone@phx.com.

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  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Journalism, first amendment, government,  More more >
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