Times asks readers to share public documents


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A new public records database set up by The Times encourages readers to share government documents.

The site includes a guide written by reporters Sam Allen and Abigail Sewell to help explain the public’s rights to government documents and to navigate the process of obtaining the information.


The California Public Records database already includes a few records submitted by readers, including records of merit pay bonuses paid to city of Glendale employees that were obtained by Glendale resident Barry Allen.

‘When the Bell scandal broke, our reporters received many documents and tips from readers asking that we look into their communities,’ City Editor Shelby Grad said. ‘Our idea was to have a formal place where readers can submit their public documents for others to see. We hope it fosters openness about local government and helps people obtain information from their government officials.’

The Times will review each document before it is posted on the site. Grad said that some of the reader-submitted documents are already generating possible story ideas.

The project is part of a larger effort by the paper to post newsworthy documents using a program called Document Cloud. Often, reporters annotate them with analysis. They can be found at

—Deirdre Edgar

Read more for a video of Assistant City Editor Kimi Yoshino introducing the database...

Visit The Times’ California Public Records project.