To mark Sunshine Week in Florida (March 15-21), UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media’s journalism program launched a new grant-funded website designed to bring more light and transparency to Winter Park city government: WinterParkSunshine.org.
The site is a searchable database where users can access publicly available information about the activities of Winter Park’s government, according to Project Director Rick Brunson, associate instructor of journalism at the Nicholson School.
This information includes city commission meeting minutes, voting records and action items, financial records and spending reports, grants, contracts and vendors, salaries, public works, campaign contributions, financial disclosure statements and much more. Users can browse data sets by collection and search by keyword terms.
While the initial database on the site focuses on action items, meeting minutes and campaign contributions, more data sets will be added over time as the research team collects and curates more records and data.
The Winter Park Sunshine team is led by Brunson and includes two graduate students and a web developer who research, compile, curate and index public data, made available in accordance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine laws.
“Central Florida is blessed with excellent journalists and multiple news organizations that provide coverage of Winter Park,’’ Brunson says. “This site is designed to empower residents of Winter Park to access for themselves information about the actions of their duly elected leaders and officials so they can be fully engaged as citizens.’’
The site is a project of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media and has been made possible through a generous grant from Winter Park philanthropist Glen Salow and the Salow Transparency Project. If the site is successful, Brunson and his team hope to expand the project to include other municipalities in Central Florida.
The project represents the Nicholson School’s commitment to providing innovative programs that advance “Free inquiry, free speech, and the free flow of information and ideas in a diverse, contemporary society.’’ For more information, Brunson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-766-7320.
Published April 1, 2020. Written by Iulia Popescu.