This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Salt Lake Tribune and MediaOne of Utah have launched a Web site that gathers in a single place facts about court cases, campaign contributions and other public information that previously was scattered across the Internet or unavailable.
The Web site - http://www.UtahsRight.com - is a pool of searchable databases for public employee salaries, school test data, divorce records, registered sex offenders, census facts and other information displayed in maps, tables and other easy-to-use formats, Tribune site manager Tony Semerad said.
"It fits an ever-expanding definition of what news is. We gather this kind of information as part of our traditional news mission. We saw a niche in passing this data to our online user," Semerad said Thursday.
UtahsRight.com is free, and users are not asked to register. Semerad said The Tribune and MediaOne, which handles printing, advertising and circulation tasks for the paper and the Deseret Morning News, launched the advertiser-supported site because Utahns have shown they like to use computers.
"Utahns are early adapters of technology and data use. The community as a whole is more wired than the average community of this size. And database resources that we already have online with sltrib.com [The Tribune's Web site] are heavily used," Semerad said.
The site, UtahsRight.com, which also has a forum for discussions, has created an element of tension. Some Utah government agencies initially balked at providing salary information, Semerad said.
"That's not data that's been available before. We've been on a two-month systematic campaign, using the Government Records Access and Management Act, of acquiring that data. That may be the most controversial aspect of the site. But we absolutely stand by the public's right to know that information."
Searchable databases have become a key part of the online offerings of most U.S. papers. Newspaper groups such as MediaNews Group, which owns The Tribune and 56 other dailies; the Cox chain, whose flagship is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and Lee Enterprises, which owns papers in 23 states, have rolled out online database services.
UtahsRight.com already appears to be gaining traction with online readers. Semerad said traffic at the site has doubled every day this week since its launch.
"We are in the tens of thousands of page views," he said.
The site's data offerings will expand. Child-care center and restaurant inspection reports will probably go online in a month. Databases, such as the National Bridge Inventory that became available after the Minneapolis bridge collapse in August, could also be added as news events unfold in the future.
"We will base where we go on what people are looking at. There are no shortages of government-generated databases out there. We just want to see what people are interested in," Semerad said.
* What can I find? Searchable databases for public employee salaries, school test data, divorce records, registered sex offenders, census facts, campaign contributions and more
* Who runs it? The Salt Lake Tribune and MediaOne of Utah