McHenry County Conservation District Denies Blog Is “News Source”–At Least for Freedom of Information Request Purposes

It appears that the McHenry County Conservation District has not yet entered the 21st century as far as figuring out what a “news source” is.

Perhaps its officials missed the 2002 presidential election when blogs regularly scooped the “legally recognized news source(s)”for which the MCCD apparently waives Freedom of Information fees.

A fee is charged members of the general public for information copied pursuant to a Freedom of Information request. I asked that the fee be waived because the information obtained would be disseminated to the public and it was in the public’s interest to learn where money had been spent from the $68.5 million bond issue passed in 2001 by the margin of 20,464 to 19,089.

More specifically, the letter said that the public interest was “that wider dissemination of the information requested is desirable in a democratic society in which those being governed know how their tax dollars are spent.”

MCCD’s response asserted that, “by definition,” a blog is “a frequently updated personal journal.” The Encarta Dictionary was quoted and the word “personal” was underlined. The blog was not a “legally recognized news source,” MCCD wrote, so my request for a fee waiver was denied.

I’ll pay the $3.83 for the report and postage and let time tell whether this blog is a news source or not. Whether the law ever recognizes blogs as a “news source” is, of course, another question.

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