IPIB AO 2017-15
IPIB AO 2017-15
January 18, 2018
SUBJECT: Review and control of media reports and internet postings
1695 115th Street
Diagonal, Iowa 50845
Dear Mr. Kilgore:
This opinion is in response to your filing of December 22, 2017, requesting an opinion from the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.6 and rule 497—1.2. We note at the outset that IPIB’s jurisdiction is limited to the application of Iowa Code chapters 21, 22, and 23, and rules in Iowa Administrative Code chapter 497. Advice in a Board opinion, if followed, constitutes a defense to a subsequent complaint based on the same facts and circumstances.
FACTUAL STATEMENT: You request an advisory opinion regarding the accuracy of media reports in newspapers and on the internet.
- Do news reports in the designated county newspaper(s) qualify as official (Iowa Code chapter 22) public records?
- Do “talking” news reports (e.g. radio/TV) qualify as official public records?
- Do Internet news reports qualify as official public records?
- Can news reports be used to supplement and/or supplant Iowa Code chapter 22 public records for evidentiary purposes?
- What process exists to verify truth in the news report(s) and/or use that information as proof of statutory violation for purposes of prosecution?
- Is media in its myriad forms (organization AND personal) subject to the strictures of Iowa Code chapter 721 and/or other chapters which invoke penalty for creating/dissemination false official records/documents?
- Is media (organizational and/or personal) subject to the same legal strictures as government if the text of the news report/public record indicates a violation of law? (submitted December 22, 2017)
Some of the questions you ask are not within the jurisdiction of the Board (Questions 4, 5, 6, and 7). Rule 497-1.2 states:
497—1.2(23) Requirements for requesting board advisory opinions. 1.2(1) Jurisdiction. The board will only issue advisory opinions pertaining to Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22, or rules adopted thereunder. The board shall not have jurisdiction over the judicial or legislative branches of state government or any entity, officer, or employee of those branches, or over the governor or the office of the governor
As to the other questions, the following applies:
- A county newspaper is not a government body as defined in Iowa Code section 22.1(1). Therefore, a county newspaper is not governed by Iowa Code chapter 22. The records they might maintain are not considered public records. However, if a governmental body possesses a news report as a part of a government record, that news report would be considered a public record, even if authored by the media outlet.
- The same discussion applies to a “talking” news report. The broadcasting outlet is not a government body subject to Chapter 22, but a recording maintained and possessed by a government body most likely would be considered a public record.
- Internet postings would be treated like news reports and broadcasting recordings.
Note that the requirements for publication of any government record are not addressed in Iowa Code chapter 22. Therefore, whether any certain media outlet can be used for official publication of government records is not within the jurisdiction of the IPIB.
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-1.3(3), a person who has received a board opinion may, within 30 days after the issuance of the opinion, request modification or reconsideration of the opinion. A request for modification or reconsideration shall be deemed denied unless the board acts upon the request within 60 days of receipt of the request. The IPIB may take up modification or reconsideration of an advisory opinion on its own motion within 30 days after the issuance of an opinion.
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-1.3(5), a person who has received a board opinion or advice may petition for a declaratory order pursuant to Iowa Code section 17A.9. The IPIB may refuse to issue a declaratory order to a person who has previously received a board opinion on the same question, unless the requestor demonstrates a significant change in circumstances from those in the board opinion.
BY DIRECTION AND VOTE OF THE BOARD
Mary Ungs-Sogaard, Chair
E. J. Giovannetti
Issued on: ___________________________