Sunshine Week: Los Angeles Times

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. 

Ben Poston

Ben Poston

BEN POSTON, reporter at Los Angeles Times

Here are two stories I did last year that were done using public databases:

State fails to keep track of hazardous waste

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.

L.A. full of roads to ruin for cars

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.

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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 kahinchcliffe@gmail.com or write to me on Twitter @RecordsGeek.

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