As Colorado’s fall neared in 2021, reporter Jesse Paul wanted to peek behind the curtain of state prisons, submitting a request for a swath of documents regarding inmate deaths, injuries and staff violations — public records made available to ensure government transparency.
But then the bill arrived, and Paul, a reporter at The Colorado Sun, shot off a cheeky email to his editors: “You guys cool if I drop $245,000 on this?”
In a concession many journalists know well, Paul gutted his admittedly large request, leaving most of those government documents shrouded from the public’s sight. Those types of financial barriers are partly why Colorado state lawmakers are considering legislation that would give the news media privileges when requesting public records, including lower fees and stricter deadlines for records custodians to produce documents.
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