New Apps for Reporters Help Cover Schools, Courts, and Cops

March 19, 2015 Updated: March 19, 2015

To celebrate a week that honors open records, Sunshine Week, a journalism rights and ethics foundation launched three mobile apps to help reporters in their work.

The Washington, D.C.-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) launched the mobile apps to give journalists working in the field help when they need answers to questions on the go about the ethics of covering schools, the right to record, and how to access information from police and courts.

The apps were inspired by the most common inquiries that the RCFP gets from journalists on a regular basis. Development of the apps was funded by a grant from the Gannett Foundation.

Some important functions are also included with the apps, including tools for recording audio, video, still images, and text for stories.

The “cops and courts” app will help reporters covering breaking and ongoing stories related to police about laws for accessing arrest reports, warrants and affidavits, and interviews with jurors and others in the legal field.

The “recording rights” app will guide reporters through the sometimes tricky process of making an audio or video recording of everything from a conversation to an arrest on the street. Authorities will often demand that bystanders stop recording, and this app will give immediate access to the laws in the state.

The “covering schools” app will assist reporters covering crimes or emergencies at public schools, as they present special concerns over the rights and protections of minors and obtaining school records.

All three apps are available in the Apple store for free and also include legal guides related to the subject, a tool to gather research for producing a story, and social media interfaces.