13.11 Evaluating Public Record Information

While the government / public sector is sometimes considered one of the most credible of the information contributors because it is beholden to the public for its operation (and overseen by the “watchdog” media) the information generated is not entirely without an agenda. Communications from the agency charged with overseeing environmental quality will have a vested interest in presenting the information with an eye to supporting the environment and may not present all sides of the situation.

As with anything that is done with human input there is a likelihood of error in public record information. Delays in the entry of information into databases, misspellings or misinterpretation of information from hand-written documents, can jeopardize the integrity of the public records found in a search (or not able to be found because of errors.) The mantra with searching public records is, “Just because you don’t find something does not necessarily mean there is nothing there.” As with any piece of information that is critical to your message, second-sourcing or using what you have found as a first step in further investigation is important.