Editor’s note: In celebration of Sunshine Week, I’ve asked journalists from around the country to tell me how they use public records in their reporting.
Here are two stories I did last year that were done using public databases:
Using CA Open Records Law, I obtained data on 2.3 million shipments of hazardous waste in CA for a five-year period. I analyzed the records using a database manager and found the lost loads and that half of the database was missing.
The city gives its road network an average grade of C. But a Times analysis finds wide disparities, and they’re not driven by wealth or political power.
Again using CA records law, I obtained street quality data from the LA Bureau of Street Services. This data came in a spreadsheet and I cleaned it up and mapped it. This allowed me to calculate weighted averages of street quality by neighborhood and city council districts.
Thanks to Ben Poston for sharing his story. If you are a journalist and would like your public records story featured on this blog, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me on Twitter @RecordsGeek.
- SUNDAY: David S. Fallis, investigative writer/reporter at The Washington Post
- MONDAY: Alex Richards, data & investigations reporter at Chicago Tribune
- TUESDAY: Peter Eisler, investigative reporter, and Barbara Hansen, data journalist, at USA TODAY
- WEDNESDAY: Becca Aaronson, health care & data reporter at The Texas Tribune
- THURSDAY: Kate Martin, Tacoma City Hall reporter at The News Tribune
- FRIDAY: Tisha Thompson, investigative reporter at NBC4 Washington
- SATURDAY: Ellen Gabler, investigative reporter/assistant editor at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel