How to Turn 1,000 Pages of Public Information into PDFs


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Journalists interested in posting public records online and adding value to them with metadata, can use this presentation made by UNC journalism student Elisa Greenwood that she made during her APPLES class sponsored by a Ueltschi Course Development Grant.

By Elisa Greenwood, UNC-Chapel Hill student
School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
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How to Turn 1,000 Pages of Public Information into PDFs

  1. 1. How to Turn 1,000 Pages of Public Information into PDFs By: Elisa Greenwood
  2. 2. After completing this presentation you will… <ul><li>Understand why releasing documents to the public is important </li></ul><ul><li>Have an idea of good and bad ways to present the documents online </li></ul><ul><li>Be able to turn numerous pages of public records into PDF files ready for uploading to your Web site </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why would my newspaper want to do this anyway? <ul><li>Provide a service for your readers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Free </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Make the government more transparent </li></ul><ul><li>Make the government more accountable </li></ul>
  4. 4. What are some good examples of others who have published public records online? <ul><li>Good Examples </li></ul><ul><li>Wyoming Supreme Court </li></ul><ul><li>John Schwartz </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ex. Incorporating multimedia </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bad Examples </li></ul><ul><li>Always a free service </li></ul><ul><li>Always increase transparency </li></ul>
  5. 5. Now its your turn… <ul><li>Determine which documents add the most value to your story. </li></ul><ul><li>Obtain copies of the documents. </li></ul><ul><li>Scan the documents. </li></ul><ul><li>Upload the documents onto your Web site. </li></ul>There are four main steps to putting public records online.
  6. 6. <ul><li>1. Determine which documents add the most value to your story </li></ul><ul><li>Relevance: </li></ul><ul><li>Realistic: </li></ul><ul><li>Exemplar Effect: </li></ul>Do the documents really pertain to the story? How many documents can you publish and still meet your deadline? Most people will look at this before the article. Do the documents tell a story? ? ? ?
  7. 7. <ul><li>2. Obtain copies of the documents </li></ul><ul><li>Locate the government agency that has the documents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>According to NC Public Record Law , anyone can request copies of public records. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Request copies in writing , date the request </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The law has no specific process. Make a request to any government employee. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Call the employee, and then send them an e-mail. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pick-up the copies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The law justifies requests for copies on CDs. Copies must be returned in a reasonable time. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. ( for projects with less than 50 pages) <ul><li>3. Scan the documents </li></ul><ul><li>Use steps 1-5 of this tutorial on Adobe Acrobat Professional </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scan: create new document </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click scan twice. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At this prompt, choose flat bed scanning. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>After the first document scans </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If you are only scanning one document, click finished scanning. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you need to scan more documents, click scan new document. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>After all the documents are scanned </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Save as </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. ( for projects with more than 50 pages) <ul><li>3. Scan the documents </li></ul><ul><li>If you do not have access to a scanner with a feeder, take jobs of 50 pages or more to FedEx Kinkos . This will save you time and energy. </li></ul><ul><li>Kinkos will scan all your documents into PDF files and burn the files to a CD. </li></ul><ul><li>Kinkos Price List </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Scan less than 500 pages: $1 each sheet </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Scan 500 or more pages : $.15 each sheet </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Scan 700 or more pages: $.10 each sheet </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>4. Upload the documents to your Web site </li></ul><ul><li>Create URL for the PDF file by uploading files with FTP. </li></ul><ul><li>Hyperlink the URL to text in your story. </li></ul>
  11. 11. How do I know if I did it right? <ul><li>Do your PDF files exist? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If the government agency denied you access to public records, file suit . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Are there blank pages in your PDF files? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If yes, use this tutorial on how to replace and delete pages in Adobe Professional. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do the PDF files add value to the story? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is the information helpful to your readers? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Of course, because you are making the government more transparent, holding them accountable, and providing a free service . </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Recap <ul><li>First, determine which documents add the most value to your story. don’t be alarmed, get a second opinion on the set of documents that you choose </li></ul><ul><li>Second, obtain copies of the documents. be nice to the government employees, they may give the copies away for free and in a timely manner </li></ul><ul><li>Third, scan the documents. first time creating PDFs, not a problem there are many tutorials on how to do this </li></ul><ul><li>Fourth, upload the documents onto your Web site. create URL by uploading files via FTP, link away!!!!! </li></ul>
  13. 13. Contact Information <ul><li>Please direct all questions to [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>View my uploaded PDFs </li></ul>