This search engine makes finding public records less painful

From Poynter

Bill Hankes was trying to find a way to sweep journalists’ inboxes of press release spam when he stumbled upon a bigger issue.

On a visit to a Seattle newsroom, he watched a reporter spend 45 minutes crawling through U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, copying names and numbers into a notepad on his desktop and then checking them through a data retrieval system. Afterwards, the reporter left for the local patent office to pore over applications, hoping to stumble upon a nugget that could grow into a story.

Hankes estimated that the reporter sunk eight hours into searching through public records in this process over the course of a week.

“And then what happens if Microsoft makes a filing 10 minutes after he leaves the SEC or the court system?” Hankes asked. “He misses it.”

Hankes, who was previously a director at Microsoft’s Bing, perhaps unsurprisingly saw this as a problem that could be solved with better search tools. So he teamed up with David Kellum, another search veteran, and founded Sqoop.

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Residents claim First Amendment violations on trustee’s Facebook page

From The Dayton Daily News

A township trustee running for re-election in Warren County has unblocked Facebook critics since the filing of a federal lawsuit claiming he prevented residents from commenting on his trustee site on the social network.

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of five Hamilton Township residents who claim David Wallace Jr. violated the First Amendment when he blocked them from commenting on a Facebook page he uses for township business.

Wallace is one of seven candidates running for two seats on the three-seat board of trustees in the booming township, south of Lebanon.

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Ohio Supreme Court forbids news photography during abortion case

From The Columbus Dispatch

The Ohio Supreme Court is not permitting news photographers to take still photos as the justices hear arguments over an abortion case on Tuesday.

The Dispatch filed a routine request with court officials on Monday to allow one of its photojournalists to capture images during oral arguments, but the request was denied.

Dispatch editors do not recall the court turning down a request to take photographs during a court session, which involves only the justices and lawyers representing the parties to the case.

Edward Miller, director of the court’s office of public information, said another photography request for Tuesday also was denied. He declined to identify the media outlet.

Miller said he and the “court administration” decided not to allow news photography. He declined to say if Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor or the other six justices were consulted.

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