Open records…Math…don’t be scared!


You can make the request in any way you choose, such as via mail or in person. Make your request as specific as possible so the records keeper can find the record. You are not required to provide a written request, although you may want to do so to better clarify your request. If a written request would help the agency better identify and locate the records, the records keeper may ask that you write the request. However, the records keeper must inform you that a written request is not required by law. See Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(B)(5). Note that the law only applies to existing documents. The law does not require the agency to create a record in response to your request.

Time limits

Ohio law does not specify any exact time limits in which the agency must respond to your request. However, upon receipt of your request, the office must “promptly” prepare the records and make them available for inspection. If you have requested copies of the records, these copies shall be provided to you “within a reasonable period of time.” See Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(B)(1).


The public records law is unclear about the specific fees you may be charged for copies of records. Upon request, the office must make copies “at cost,” whch means that they cannot profit from your request. The office can charge for “the cost involved in providing the public record,” and you may be required to pay the fee in advance. See Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(B)(6). The statute does not specify exact rates the agency may charge (such as a maximum cost per copy).

Bottom line: anyone can ask; document is better but not needed; record must exist and not be created. Can sometimes avoid simply by asking first.

Would there be outrage here if same method was used to teach about open records?


It can be incredibly useful. The AP counted railroad ties to determine train speed!

Comparison and context are hugely important. Steak houses vs. total campaign spending.

Here is a link to Labor Department data.

Here is lobbying info.

Here is Census Bureau starting point.

Want some energy info or gas prices? Here you go.

Looking for real estate records in Franklin County? BOOM!

ALWAYS REMEMBER: context and comparisons are key when dealing with numbers. Don’t just say 500,000 people lost their jobs. Don’t just the party cost $90,000. Show that 500,000 people live in Washington, D.C., and that’s like the whole city getting fired. Show that for the same amount as the party, someone could have bought 3 BMWs…maybe 2 fully loaded.

A WORD ON PERCENT VS. PERCENTAGE POINTS: If you’re bad at math, or just forget how to do a percent change calculation, use a website like this one.

How to file a story in The Lantern class and common problems to avoid.

Send me an email with the raw copy you sent your editors. Subject line should be Section, Number of story.

For example: if Dan is filing his first story for Campus, the subject line would be: Campus 1.

If Joan is filing her 4th story for Sports: Sports 4.

Send me everything you do for class, from full stories to commentaries to contributions for other stories. That way, you get credit/extra credit for everything. If you don’t send it to me, how can I give you credit?


* Know the rules on names, numbers, titles

* Missed/buried ledes, not prioritizing within 5 W’s and H for news and not taking advantage of feature opportunities

* Not enough sources, and stories that lack voices of authority

* Over reliance on email


Speech story rules

At least 4 sources, at least 3 quoted.
All normal rules apply. INCLUDE MULTIMEDIA GRAF.

How to file stories for The Lantern

Send me an email to with the raw copy you sent your editors. Subject line should be Section, Number of story.

For example: if Dan is filing his first story for Campus, the subject line would be: Campus 1.

If Joan is filing her 4th story for Sports: Sports 4.

Always include contact info for all sources; any notes you think your editors or I need to be aware of.

Any questions, let me know.

Edit this

An Ohio State student was granted a rare opportunity this past summer: the chance to fulfill her dream of interning in the nation’s capitol.

The White House Internship program offered through The John Glenn School of Public Affairs provides Ohio State students with the opportunity to study and work in the nation’s capital. The interns remain fully registered Ohio State students and earn credit for their internship. In addition to the internship, the students participate in a research seminar and take a course on policy and public service.

Aiesha White, a senior in international studies with an economics minor, felt that her experience as an intern for three years at Procter and Gamble and as vice president of John Glenn Civic Leadership Council, gave her the upper hand amongst the other applicants.

White was always attracted to public policy, particularly in relation to education.

“Education is one of the most important pieces of and individuals,” said White. “And it is the key to getting the nation and country to a better place.”

White decided to apply for the John Glenn Washington Academic Internship Program this past summer because she wanted to get the experience first-hand from a broad perspective, rather than from a local one. While in Washington DC, White interned at the US Department of Education in the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institution program.

The HIS Program is a nationwide program that provides grants to assist HSIs to expand and improve educational opportunities for Hispanic students.

After months of researching colleges and grants, White presented her findings to the HIS and then had the opportunity to add in her own feedback.

“It was definitely the highlight of the internship,” said White. “It’s very rare that staff members can go as in depth as I did and it’s nice to be able to provide them with that important information to give perspective on how to help schools.”

For White, one of the biggest findings that stood out amongst all of her research was the large number of schools trying to be more innovative with the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematical (STEM) approach.

“Schools are trying hard to utilize new ideas and learning,” said Whyte. “They are making really strong efforts to improve, and that was really exciting to find out.”

The experience White gained through the internship has instilled in her a drive to pursue this educational policy. She dreams of leading a non-profit group geared toward education reform, and knows that she can utilize her experiences in DC to achieve her goal.

“I would definitely tell anyone to do this (internship),” said White. “It’s a great experience, no matter what you’re studying. You’re in Washington DC: one of most influential cities in entire world. It’s a life changing experience.”

White is currently an intern with the National Economic Council at the White House, and will return back to OSU for her final spring semester.

Spend Spring Break in LA!

Los Angeles Experience – College of Arts and Sciences – Spring Break 2013

Any undergraduate or graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences is invited to apply for the Los Angeles Experience, a new program to take 20 students to meet with OSU alumni working in the TV and Film industry and also in Visual Arts in Los Angeles, California. Students will be selected based upon their academic and career goals related to the experience of learning about TV/film and visual arts in LA. Students interested in producing, filming, managing, directing, acting, orchestrating (music), or writing will make valuable connections. Students interested in painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, or other visual arts on the west coast will also have unique experiences. The cost of the 5-day experience from March 9 -14, 2013 is $475 which includes flight, hotel, meetings and receptions with valuable alumni, tours of production studios, visits to museums, and a few meals. Applications are due by January 14, 2013. Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the OSU Arts Initiative. For more information, please contact Tim Valentine at

Almost Perfect

Almost perfect.

That’s the best journalists can hope for. There’s always someone or something that could have made the story, photo, video, graphic, headline, caption, layout just a little bit better. Not necessarily more accurate or newsworthy, just better.

Perfection is the goal, an elusive and impossible one to attain. Still, it drives us. Learn more, do better. Next time.

But sometimes being almost perfect can have a huge effect on your audience. Producing something that is almost perfect can transcend the daily goals of telling accurate, newsworthy and interesting stories and reach an emotional connection with your readers and viewers.

The front page of The Lantern on Nov. 26 is almost perfect and it has affected Ohio State families, coaches, alumni, employees, casual fans and the journalists who helped make it happen.

Ohio State’s Zach Boren standing over Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner is the dominant visual on the page and rightfully so. It is a powerful image, framed well and Boren’s imposing figure stands in front of a simple, one-word headline: “Undefeated.”

The bottom third of the page includes the score of the game, the recap and smaller photo of Coach Urban Meyer and senior defensive lineman John Simon. All very well done, but the front page’s anchor, the reason it continues to resonate with the audience and is now being sold as a poster that people are actually buying is the photo of Boren.

So why is it almost perfect? Why am I trying to find a problem, any imperfection, in something that has evoked pride from so many people?

The short answer: I’m not. But I see so much more than just one photo on one page. The deeper you look, the more elusive perfection becomes. That is not a bad thing.

That’s life.

Almost perfect could also describe the football team this year. Their record was perfect, 12-0, in Meyer’s first season in control. But with a bowl ban and no shot at the only other undefeated team in the country in a National Championship Game that would likely have drawn more hype and viewers than even Notre Dame vs. Alabama will: almost perfect.

The photo itself: almost perfect: Boren has been an inspiration this year. I shy away from commenting on the football team or any others on campus because there is always a chance that these young men and women could end up as students in one of my classes. I think I’m safe here since Boren is graduating and unlikely to end up in my classes in Spring.

He started the year as a fullback and was becoming a featured player in Meyer’s evolving offense, carrying the ball and scoring more than he had in the last three years combined. Then, the team was hurting on the defensive side of the ball, and a player, a captain, having a great season, did the selfless thing. He went where his team needed him, making the switch to defense from offense. A runner who used to blow up linebackers with lead blocks, or run over or through them with ball in hand, would instead try to deliver similar punishment from the other side of the line.

Boren did more than try. He quickly became a leading tackler and provided stability to a group that needed it. The photo of him standing over Gardner splashed on the front page of the student newspaper, a seemingly perfect end to an imperfect but Hollywood-esque season and career.

But I want more in the photo.

I want to see Boren’s face. I want to see the name on the back of his jersey. I want to see Gardner’s face.

I know those things are impossible. I know I’m a jerk. I know journalism is imperfect. I’m OK with all of that.

Still, there are few parts of this story, this photo, this front page and its aftermath that have been perfect. That selecting the photo was a group effort in the newsroom which quickly became the only choice: perfect. The reaction from Cody Cousino, the editor who took the photo, and his colleagues as they continue to hear the stories of the fans who want to buy it, the coaches who want to add it to a wall at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and the family members who want it for scrapbooks: perfect.

Cody has called the emails and phone calls “humbling.” The Lantern staff has taken tremendous and rightful pride in creating the page. That’s obvious when you see the genuine, satisfied smiles on their faces with every new accolade: few papers left on the racks, the business office selling the posters and sales going well, congratulatory emails and tweets from alumni and fans, including one Lantern alumnus and Columbus Dispatch editor who called it a “bold” choice.

Those reactions and kind words are what I’ll remember most, not the photo or even the perfect season that demanded it resonate with The Lantern’s audience.

The front page, the photo, the team, the story, the caption, the headline, the layout: almost perfect.

And that’s a good thing. It gives these journalists (and me) a new standard of excellence to work to surpass.

The goal is always perfection with the knowledge that almost achieving it can be just as rewarding.