What To Do With the Information You Actually Get

It has been 18 business days since I refiled FOIA requests to the Fort Worth Department of Planning and Development and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas. I have yet to receive any response from the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding my request. However, I did get the documents I requested from the Fort Worth Department of Planning and Development about all building permits filed by Texas Christian University concerning the Worth Hills Building located at the address 3504 Pond Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76109, in the Worth Hills area of TCU’s campus. Just three days after making the request, the files were electronically delivered via email as asked. In the email, the department’s representative graciously relayed that while they have the right to charge a fee for the documents, I was not charged any money for their retrieval and delivery.

In response to my FOIA request, I received 34 pages worth of documents showing six different building permit filings by TCU. Four of these filings were made on October 24, 2012, and the other two were much more recent requests made on June 6, 2014. Of the October filings, one was for a demolition and remodeling of the existing building for $10,000, another for a construction addition to the existing building for a mechanical plant for $4,584,717 and the last two were for the construction of a cooling tower equalling $585,000. Therefore, the proposed total cost of this 2012 project was $5,179,717. You could use this information in an article about TCU’s past growth and how they are using their money on construction. You could also highlight what the specific remodeled aspects of the building were, or you could even write a story on the proposed cost of construction versus the actual cost of construction and how that is consistent or unusual for TCU’s other building projects across campus.

In the June 6, 2014, building permit filings, one document showed the plans for a remodeling of the data center proposed to equal $6,200,000, and the other concerned the construction of a fence and installation of generators for the building expected to reach $1,625,443. Therefore, the total cost of this remodeling project is expected to total a whopping $7,825,443 for one data center in Worth Hills. Numbers like these could be used as supplementary evidence and data points for an article on TCU’s spending habits with construction projects or campus spending in general. These numbers also seem to suggest, that if TCU is putting forth millions of dollars on a data center, then the rest of Worth Hills must also be receiving quite an upgrade. With more investigation, a reporter could probably find exact building floor plans and the proposed future of the entire Worth Hills area.

While these numbers may not be an article in and of themselves, they would be an incredible resource to supplement the points in an article with concrete data figures and numbers. Every story is made stronger when evidence can be shown for the arguments that are being made, so having exact numbers is one way to provide that evidence and gain credibility with your readers. Although it takes more time to ask for and sort through data such as this, it can add so much to an article and show a side that other people may not have revealed in mere interviews. Plus, your readers will appreciate the hard work and diligence you put into making the story the best it could be. So, take the time to find the numbers, because they may end up being the key to your story.

Attached below are all of the documents I received from the Fort Worth Department of Planning and Development. Please feel free to look through them and come to your own conclusions. Enjoy!

Fort Worth Department of Planning and Development documents

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