In the span of a week, both the Strib and Pipress put databases up on their websites, of varying degrees of inclusion.
First, the Strib. They launched "infoCenter" which is basically a clearinghouse of all the information the Strib has.
Here's what they got:
Business: See Minnesota's top-earning companies and CEOs
Community:Twin Cities demographic information.
Education: Did your school make the grade? See 2008 test scores.
Entertainment: Find music, theater, art, festivals and other diversions.
Government: Learn how much public employees get paid.
Politics: See campaign contributions and election filings.
Public safety: Homicide map, crime statistics and more.
Recreation + lifestyle: Find local garden centers, farmers markets and more.
Real estate: Research home prices in the Twin Cities.
Transportation: A bridge watch list and traffic information.
In the same week, the Pipress ran a story about state workers' pay, and published their entire database online.
While database reporting is lauded by many media members, that doesn't mean the public see it as a service to them all of the time.
The editor at the PiPress ran this rationale for the story, defending the right to publish them.
A few days later, there were 146 comments from readers.
Some were angry:
Bottom line is...
1.) We are at higher risk with regards to safety concerns. Client's are not necessarily always happy with us and some are not necessarily that particularly stable individuals.(*some-not all)
You can publish my salary. However, publishing my last name goes too far where my and my children's safety is concerned. I live within the community which I serve. The next time I receive a threat here at work (yes it does happen more often then you think) by someone who is not happy with their "government" assistance, I can rest assurred that the enlightened individuals such as the Pioneer Press will make it a point to do what?? Ignore it I am sure because that is not going to get you ratings is it?
2.) Our client's income is funded through state and federal tax dollars. So, taking your argument above, we should publish their full names and annual assistance? My response to that is absolutely not. We make data privacy a primary concern with regards to our clients as we should. Do we not then deserve the same respect? I think that your argument is not as "water tight" as you would like to believe it is.
I would really appreciate that the media think before it speaks at times.
My salary listed on line is $30,000 more than it really is. I expect the Pioneer Press to make up the difference. All public employees should boycott the PP.
Here is what to do!
1) Cancel your subscription to the PP (its 80% wire service articles anyhow)
2) Pay to purchase 1 paper at your local PP paper stand, and then rather than taking one copy of the paper, simply remove all the papers and either:
a.Set on top of the machine
b.Toss in nearest trash receptacle
Some defending the decision:
Its public information, and the public has every right to know. I could not careless that they posted my name, rank and pay. That is part of the deal with public service. Any of my fellow public servants who are concerned should have realized that they forgo the right to earn income annonymously from the tax payers. I am no right wing hack, no GW or Pawlenty supporter or advocate of government spying on people.
BUT, this is part of the deal when you apply for a job. It's in the paperwork you sign when you first started.
Complaining about this is like buying homeowner's insurance, and not reading the whole agreement. Then, complaining you don't have flood insurance when the nearby river floods.
IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT... LEAVE THE PUBLIC SECTOR AND GET A PRIVATE JOB.
All in all, database reporting is here to stay, and as far as I'm concerned, it IS a public service.