updated 9-3 to correct information about PacerMonitor
The traditional way, the government’s website, Public Access to Court Electronic Records, PACER, costs 10 cents a page, plus some downloading/search fees.
That’s because PACER doesn’t save any of your previous searches. So Katy has found a better way, that while may cost more, will make reporting easier.
Katy subscribes to the Ready Reporter philosophy of making reporting quicker, better and smarter–- whenever you can, set up the information to come to you. Then you don’t have to remember and make time to go get it.
She recommends that reporters subscribe to Inforuptcy.com or PacerMonitor.com if they can afford one, as these services will track and email you the new filings. She says both are reputable and have the same information as PACER, but a better interface.
“Say you care only about two or three companies,” says Stech. “You can have the settings so it refreshes the dockets every day or every hour and it will email them to you.”
Inforuptcy doesn’t have a monthly fee for infrequent users, just a per document cost. But to get auto tracking it’s $9/month and the email alert function is $99/month, again with a cost per page. It has no free trial but you can develop familiarity with the site by looking at free expired listings. Or will give you a free demo.
PacerMonitor is regularly $49 per month and 15 cents per document, but does offer a 14-day free trial. It also now boosts an automatic feed to a DropBox account. Journalists can contact the company to waive the monthly fee so they just pay 10 cents per page.
If you’re at a small organization with limited budget, then go for PACER. The cost is 10 cents per page with a maximum of $3 per document, even if over 30 pages. However, fees are waived when you use less than $15 for the quarter.
Two tips from Katy’s experience:
- Go beyond the documents. “There’s no replacing a human source,” says Katy . She adds you must talk to a knowledgeable source and ask that person to walk you through the complications of the case.
- Befriend lawyers to get the documents for free. Ask them to send you the documents when they file them.
Whatever system you will use, learn it now –- so when that big bankruptcy occurs, you already know how to get on and navigate the system.