IRE/NICAR
Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization
dedicated to improving the quality of inv...
 Training
 Resources
 Networking
 Conferences
 Data services
•Assume it’s public.
•Assume it’s free.
•Documents = databases.
Know the Law
http://www.rcfp.org/ogg/index.php
Why
data?
Uncover basic information. (Simple
lookups)
Test government procedures, regulations
and officials’ promises.
Enterprise...
 Data are never “perfect”
 Data can’t tell you everything. It’s just a
starting point.
 CAR doesn’t replace solid stree...
 Examples
 The basics of spreadsheets
 Searchable databases available online
 Finding and downloading data online
 Ot...
Test procedures, question officials,
analyze regulations.
 DATA: Built an interactive database using newspaper
reports, court records and documents obtained from
prosecutors and d...
 DATA: Federal Procurement Data System
 FINDINGS: At least 24 large companies since
2009 either based or with major offi...
 DATA: Fire Department dispatch data
 FINDINGS: Fire Department falls short of the standard
that rescue units be alerted...
 FINDINGS: A yearlong
investigation found that
Americans face higher
risks of food poisoning
and other dangers because
th...
DATA: population data sets
FINDINGS: Populations around the facilities have swelled as much as 4½
times since 1980, evacua...
City Press – South Africa
DATA: workplace safety inspections
FINDINGS: Workers in many dangerous industries get a small
fraction of the attention fr...
“ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reviewed
health department inspection reports for
food and beverage outlets at all 107
North A...
 The difference between a spreadsheet and a
database.
 Why use other software?
 Options?
 Remember – any time a biz interacts with the
government, information becomes public.
 Ask for the document and/or data
...
 FOIA – Open records logs
 State and federal statutes
 Appendix and footnotes to audits and reports
 Inspectors Genera...
 Major Information Systems – request a list from
government agency: example US Marshall’s list
here.
“The Electronic Free...
 Online forms to submit information:
example online form from the Internet
Crime Complaint Center here.
 Actually read a...
Work sources
Follow the money
 Grants
 Single Audit Reports (Reports will exist if they
receive more than $300,000 in fe...
 Search by domain:
 .gov – government sites (other types: .edu, .org,
.com, .net, etc.)
 Example – search for “Oil spil...
 In Excel format – example IRS Exempt
Organizations here.
 From the web – example Texas offenders on
death row here.
 I...
 PDF to Excel – try cometdocs.com
 Use Web scraper for Chrome. Example: World
Bank Ineligible listings.
 Creative searc...
 OSHA workplace safety inspections
 DOL enforcement data
 Federal contracts (FPDS) (ex. Border
protection)
 Recalls (l...
 Fatality Analysis Reporting System data (FARS)
 National sex offender registry (
Department of Justice)
 Transportatio...
 Nursing home, hospital and home health data
from Medicare
 Firearms data from the ATF
 Migration data from the IRS
 T...
 Batch Geo – for making interactive maps
 Chrome Scraper – For gathering data online
 Down Them All – For grabbing lots...
Consumer Reports
(pdf report)
•On-time by airport (pg 7)
•Departure by time (pg 13)
•Chronically delayed flights (pg 15)
•...
 American FactFinder for quick data profiles.
 Datasets from IRE– download profiles,
comparisons and more.
 Get informa...
 Fedstats – A to Z list of statistical data from the
government.
 Data.gov – Searchable catalogs of government
data. (se...
 State Government Databases wiki from the
American Library Association
 BRB Publications links to public records sites
...
Some simple online tools
Example: Michigan CAFOs
Mark Horvit
mark@ire.org
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit
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Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit

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Jaimi Dowdell, training director for the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), and Mark Horvit, executive director of IRE, offer a guide to using data in business reporting for the free investigative workshop, "Accountability in Indian Country - Be a Better Business Watchdog," on July 18, 2013.

Presented by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, this workshop was part of the Native American Journalists Association's annual conference in Phoenix.

For more information about free training for business journalists, please visit businessjournalism.org.

For additional resources on using data to empower your coverage, please visit the training archive page at http://businessjournalism.org/2013/07/17/accountability-in-indian-country-be-a-better-business-watchdog-self-guided-training/.

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  • Get to know the Freedom of Information laws in your state. Usually, the local press association will have a small handbook for reporters that will help explain the law. Go to the Web site & show what that state ’s information looks like online.
  • As soon as I got back Monday, I requested residential appraisal data (the 2012 numbers were just released). I used another Excel trick and isolated zip codes, then used pivot tables to draw some pretty interesting conclusions. I spent last week on it and had the centerpiece in today ’s paper (you can read there here: http://cjonline.com/news/2012-03-11/property-values-health-city-connected)   In addition, we turned the information into a searchable database on our site (http://cjonline.com/databases/property-values) and made a slideshow of the top 50 homes (http://cjonline.com/slideshow/50-highest-valued-homes-shawnee-county#slide=0). As of right now, the slideshow the second most visited thing on our site since a story in 2008. All because of some simple data analysis in Excel that, before Stillwater, would have taken me at least a month to analyze.   We ’re going to be doing one on commercial property, top property owners and try to merge excel sheets with property tax and delinquent tax information, too. In case you want to let them know the possibilities.  
  • Example for retention sked: disaster preparedness drills: 259 Disaster Preparedness Drill Records This record series consists of the results of disaster preparedness exercises and supporting documents including scenarios, location of safety related drills, timetables, response times, probable outcomes, areas of difficulty, descriptions of how difficulties were resolved, and areas for improvement. The types of drills include, but are not limited to, fire, tornado, safety, hurricane, and SARA (Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act) chemical spills. Section 252.365(3)(b), F.S., requires state agencies to include in their disaster preparedness plans “schedules and procedures for periodic tests, training, and exercises.” Section 252.38, F.S., authorizes counties and municipalities to “develop an emergency management plan and program that is coordinated and consistent with the state comprehensive emergency management plan and program.” See also “DISASTER PREPAREDNESS PLANS,” “DIRECTIVES/POLICIES/PROCEDURES,” and “INSPECTION RECORDS: FIRE/SECURITY/SAFETY.” 2 calendar years provided reviews have been conducted.
  • Data Journalism for Business Reporting by Jaimi Dowdell and Mark Horvit

    1. 1. IRE/NICAR
    2. 2. Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources.
    3. 3.  Training  Resources  Networking  Conferences  Data services
    4. 4. •Assume it’s public. •Assume it’s free. •Documents = databases.
    5. 5. Know the Law http://www.rcfp.org/ogg/index.php
    6. 6. Why data?
    7. 7. Uncover basic information. (Simple lookups) Test government procedures, regulations and officials’ promises. Enterprise reporting – do stories that no one else is doing. In addition: Journalism that has data elements translates incredibly well online.
    8. 8.  Data are never “perfect”  Data can’t tell you everything. It’s just a starting point.  CAR doesn’t replace solid street reporting skills.
    9. 9.  Examples  The basics of spreadsheets  Searchable databases available online  Finding and downloading data online  Other databases that aren’t so readily available
    10. 10. Test procedures, question officials, analyze regulations.
    11. 11.  DATA: Built an interactive database using newspaper reports, court records and documents obtained from prosecutors and defense attorneys to compile a partial list of self-defense cases in Florida since 2005.  FINDINGS: Florida's "stand your ground" law is being used to free gang  members involved in shootouts drug dealers beefing with clients and people who shot their victim in the back
    12. 12.  DATA: Federal Procurement Data System  FINDINGS: At least 24 large companies since 2009 either based or with major offices in the Bay Area received at least 299 contracts labeled “small business” totaling $77 million.
    13. 13.  DATA: Fire Department dispatch data  FINDINGS: Fire Department falls short of the standard that rescue units be alerted within one minute on 90% of 911 calls  In the more than 250,000 medical dispatches last year, the department took 75% longer, on average, than the national standard.
    14. 14.  FINDINGS: A yearlong investigation found that Americans face higher risks of food poisoning and other dangers because the industry increasingly relies on a mechanical tenderization process and antibiotic overuse is leading to resistant bacteria in humans. Big beef paid for advertising and promotions, for example, getting lean cuts certified by the American Heart Association as “heart-healthy” food.  RESOURCES: reporters traveled to seven states and analyzed USDA data, lawsuits, scientific studies, government audits and research reports.  http://www.kansascity.com /2012/12/08/3951701/how- this-series-was- reported.html#storylink=cpy
    15. 15. DATA: population data sets FINDINGS: Populations around the facilities have swelled as much as 4½ times since 1980, evacuation times have not been updated for decades, More than 90 of the nation's 104 operating reactors have been allowed to run at higher power levels for many years, raising the radiation risk in a major accident
    16. 16. City Press – South Africa
    17. 17. DATA: workplace safety inspections FINDINGS: Workers in many dangerous industries get a small fraction of the attention from inspectors that construction workers do. Two of Washington's most injury–prone industries get Almost no attention from workplace safety inspectors: Nursing homes and Hospitals
    18. 18. “ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reviewed health department inspection reports for food and beverage outlets at all 107 North American arenas and stadiums that were home to Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association teams in 2009. At 30 of the venues (28 percent), more than half of the concession stands or restaurants had been cited for at least one "critical" or "major" health violation. Such violations pose a risk for foodborne illnesses that can make someone sick, or, in extreme cases, become fatal.”
    19. 19.  The difference between a spreadsheet and a database.  Why use other software?  Options?
    20. 20.  Remember – any time a biz interacts with the government, information becomes public.  Ask for the document and/or data retention schedule.  Arizona  Get a tour.  Grab every blank form – both internal and external – in all agencies you cover.  Meet the document and data clerks and the IT folks.
    21. 21.  FOIA – Open records logs  State and federal statutes  Appendix and footnotes to audits and reports  Inspectors General  State auditors  GAO reports (Government Accountability Office)
    22. 22.  Major Information Systems – request a list from government agency: example US Marshall’s list here. “The Electronic Freedom of Information Act of 1996 requires agencies to make available to the public an index and description of their major information systems.”  Something in a “chart” format may mean that a database exists: example California West Nile Virus here.
    23. 23.  Online forms to submit information: example online form from the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.  Actually read a web site – don’t let it force you into predefined roles: example North Carolina Department of Revenue here. (site map, search)  Search for keywords related to data: download, database, information system, submit, searchable, inspection, enforcement, Excel, etc.
    24. 24. Work sources Follow the money  Grants  Single Audit Reports (Reports will exist if they receive more than $300,000 in federal funds. Can order full reports from Census)  Annual gaming income report from Alan Meister
    25. 25.  Search by domain:  .gov – government sites (other types: .edu, .org, .com, .net, etc.)  Example – search for “Oil spill” “2010” and limit to site:.gov  Search by file type:  .xls for spreadsheets; .txt, .csv for text files; .mdb, .dbf for databas files  Example – Same search as above but limit to filetype:xls  Search for words within a URL:  Examples: ftp, download, data, inspection, enforcement, 2010, etc.
    26. 26.  In Excel format – example IRS Exempt Organizations here.  From the web – example Texas offenders on death row here.  In text format – example from data.gov search on “inspection” here.  Use DTA to quickly download records – example Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board monthly expense reports.
    27. 27.  PDF to Excel – try cometdocs.com  Use Web scraper for Chrome. Example: World Bank Ineligible listings.  Creative searching in forms.
    28. 28.  OSHA workplace safety inspections  DOL enforcement data  Federal contracts (FPDS) (ex. Border protection)  Recalls (look at tabs for topics)  Economy at a Glance from the Bureau of Labor Statistics  Local Area Unemployment Statistics from the BLS  EPA environmental data searches
    29. 29.  Fatality Analysis Reporting System data (FARS)  National sex offender registry ( Department of Justice)  Transportation data from BTS  Aircraft data (service difficulty reports, on-time data, aircraft registry, etc.)  NTSB Aviation Accidents (and more)  FAA accidents/incidents and service difficulty reports (SDRs)  Flight tracker from flightaware  On-time statistics
    30. 30.  Nursing home, hospital and home health data from Medicare  Firearms data from the ATF  Migration data from the IRS  Tax data from IRS (tax exempt orgs)  Mine Safety and Health Administration ( MSHA)  National Agricultural Statistics Service
    31. 31.  Batch Geo – for making interactive maps  Chrome Scraper – For gathering data online  Down Them All – For grabbing lots of files in one shot  EXIF Viewer – To get info from photos
    32. 32. Consumer Reports (pdf report) •On-time by airport (pg 7) •Departure by time (pg 13) •Chronically delayed flights (pg 15) •Tarmac delays (pg 25) •Mishandled baggage (pg 29) •Injuries and deaths involving pets (49) From Bureau of Transportation statistics (Downloadable to Excel) •Flight delays •Bag fees by airline •Chronically delayed flights •Cancelled flights
    33. 33.  American FactFinder for quick data profiles.  Datasets from IRE– download profiles, comparisons and more.  Get information on the Census from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and IRE.
    34. 34.  Fedstats – A to Z list of statistical data from the government.  Data.gov – Searchable catalogs of government data. (search for business, contracts, inspections, etc.)  USAspending.gov or FedSpending.org – Federal spending data including grants, loans, contracts, etc. (Ex. Coca Cola)
    35. 35.  State Government Databases wiki from the American Library Association  BRB Publications links to public records sites  Portico
    36. 36. Some simple online tools
    37. 37. Example: Michigan CAFOs
    38. 38. Mark Horvit mark@ire.org

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