Making Information Easier To Access

I am a big fan of the Examiner, and not only because they let me be a part of their blog board of contributors. The online edition of the paper, which is what I am most familiar with, is very well organized and easy to access. The content of the paper is excellent — my favorite political reporter Bill Sammon is on board there, as well as one of my favorite people, Mark Tapscott. I really like their comprehensive coverage and love the “strange” stories. Because I am already a fan I was not surprised to read of their new feature WECAN, which is an online community resource they are developing. What a concept, huh? A newspaper which seeks to serve the community by making information generally difficult to obtain, in this case compensation of public employees, easily accessible. Here is a description of the feature.

A WECAN Web site that brings all of these and many more civic action and public accountability resources together in one place on is under construction.

WECAN illustrates The Examiner’s commitment to the idea — unprecedented in old media — that, through the Internet, a daily newspaper can be a valuable partner with interested residents in applying what author James Surowiecki calls “The Wisdom of Crowds” to government accountability and civic activism.

Quite simply, that wisdom is the fact that all of us together are much smarter, more experienced and knowledgeable than any one of us acting alone. The Internet allows us to focus all of our collective knowledge, experience and skills on a particular problem or issue simultaneously.

By putting databases and other resources on the Internet, WECAN makes it possible to focus hundreds or even thousands of pairs of eyes and brains on key government activities or services. Compensation of public employees is of fundamental importance to the accountability process, but it is only part of it. WECAN will also be posting databases and other resources having to do with budgets, expense accounts, audits, tax rolls, health and safety inspections and much else — all with the idea of partnering with you, our readers, in doing analyses independent of official spin.Read the rest to find out how readers can suggest information to be added to the WECAN site.

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