Category Archives: DataBank

Simple database applications

"Develop simple database applications with photos and maps to let your users
actually find what they’re looking for, or partner with a good third-party
vertical who can."
– That’s from Invisible Inkling and his 10 obvious things about the future of newspapers. All 10 are worthwhile. This is No. 2" "It’s not Craig’s fault."

Inkling (Ryan Sholin) is talking about Craig Newmark and classified ads, but the same point applies to data sets (public teacher salaries, crime stats, guide to golf courses). Hattip to Jeff Jarvis, and his very active Facebook page, for the tip about Ryan.

The Morning Call seems to get it. Evidence: The Morning Call posted 20,000 kennel inspection reports with a story about puppy mills and lax government oversight. More evidence: Chris Krewson was circulating this help-wanted post the other week:

Looking for a data-head with an interest in journalism. The
job’s "Data Editor," a slight rethinking of our old Computer Assisted
Reporting Editor job.

We want someone to acquire and analyze locally relevant data and mash it up.

This person will also build and maintain databases to enhance our news report,
from computer-assisted investigative projects to consumer-focused community
topics. And also participate in news planning meetings to generate ideas for
data.

The ideal candidate would have solid news judgment and some experience as a
computer-assisted reporter or editor. The database editor also would be
responsible to maintain and update the newsroom Intranet, and would train and
assist staff in computer-assisted reporting skills and the Intranet.

This editor needs to be a self-starter and have the ability to juggle both
long-term and short-term projects. Knowledge of computer platforms, PC
applications, Excel and Access and an understanding of networking are required,
as is familiarity with ASP.net and SQL server. Knowledge of HTML and XML is
required. Experience with PHP/My SQL is preferred. A bachelor’s degree, not
necessarily in computer science, is required, a master’s would be a plus.

If you’re interested, send a resume, work samples or links to your databases to
Terry Rang, deputy managing editor, The Morning Call,

101 N. Sixth St., Allentown, PA 18105,
or e-mail them to terry.rang@mcall.com.

The Knight Foundation and Medill seem to get it, too. That’s why there is now a scholarship program to teach journalism to computer students. (Click for more on the Knight grants.)

Ryan, keep posting. There are people who are thinking about the future, with much the same mindset. Thanks for the succinct list.

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Filed under Business models, DataBank, Web/Tech

A model golf guide

In Chicago, Crain’s does it. It’s an interactive guide to golf courses and readers can search by state, by city (Crown Point, Ind., for example) or town, or by other characteristics (by par). How much use will it get, how hard is it to build? It seems friendly to users and a good foundation of layering on extra information, including golfer comments.

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Filed under DataBank, Hyper-local, Search

Some Philadelphia examples

CRIME The Inquirer now has an interactive homicide map for 2007 (year to date) as a companion to the homicide map for 2006. There are shooting maps for both time periods, too (shootings 2007, year to date) (shootings 2006).
BUSINESS  The new Inquirer business news blog, PhillyInc, is updated several times a day. It includes this post on campaign donations by employer and an entry on post-graduation plans of college students, by college.

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Filed under DataBank, Weblogs

Salaries for public workers

BusinessWeek looks at data banks and in particular at Gannett’s offerings: "A big hit at Gannett’s Asbury Park Press‘ app.com is its DataUniverse.
There users can while away the hours dredging all manner of state and local
databases: home sales, crime statistics, school district SAT scores, inmate
records. If this sounds sleep-inducing, know that DataUniverse has notched over
4 million page views since its December launch."
Here’s what the Asbury Park Press is offering, in their own words: "New Jersey public employees of colleges, authorities and local, county and state
governments for 2006. The searchable list shows locations, base salaries, salary
groups and those with three or more government jobs."
If you ask for public employees making at least $125,000 a year, you get this list. The basic search form is right here.

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Filed under DataBank

Helping the public track public spending

When a public school system pays out $14.5 million in performance bonuses to 8,000 teachers, what should the public know about the payments?  Some teachers received nothing, others received $100 and some received $7,000 or more. If you pay taxes in this district, will you know how your money is spent? Houston has an elaborate system for teacher performance pay. The local newspaper, The Houston Chronicle, has made available bonus pay information for every teacher and school. It’s data that may encourage a family to try to place a child in a class taught, for example, by Marjorie Hunt-Bluford, who earned a $7,175 bonus teaching fifth grade. It’s data that helps families understand the functioning of the public schools — in many ways the most basic part of government. A Chronicle column reported that the database had more than 400,000 page views. A school news blog has more than 400 comments relating to a post on the bonuses.  Some readers argued that making this data public is an invasion of privacy. Others thanked The Chronicle for lifting the curtain and giving readers a chance to understand how the system works.

Across the country, the Washington Examiner listed salary information for about 20,000 teachers in one county system. See previous post.

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Filed under DataBank

Headlines by Zipcode

In Arizona, the Daily Star has started a web collection of headlines by zipcode. A click on any zipcode brings the reader to a collection of stories, and data on home sales and school test scores.

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Filed under DataBank, Hyper-local

Rob Curley and data

Rob Curley, the editor who had such a success in Naples, is now in Washington. According to Peter Krasilovsky, the next step is coming into focus: "Curley is working on “local, local, local”….and video too. None of “the trough
full of projects” that he’s been working on have been put up yet, Curley told
Barnako. But a key project is “very local,” presumably located in the suburbs
rather than the District; and features a big time database, using the FAST
search engine; SMS, audio and video."

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Filed under DataBank, Hyper-local

Crime reports

Tampa Tribune and TBO online have an interactive crime tracking map. Philadelphia Inquirer does something similar with homicides. The Chicago Tribune sorts the data with pull-down menus, but there is no map. An independent website, chicagocrime.org, does a more sophisticated job, including maps. Washington Post provides a searchable data set of individual crimes, sorted by area and by street.

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Filed under DataBank

Police blotter

Austin American Statesman puts up police press releases. The blog, The Blotter,  seems to compile every announcement from the department. A paper in Uniontown, in western Pennsylvania, The Herald Standard, explains its practice of posting the state police outstanding warrants list each week.

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Filed under DataBank

Studying donations for casino links

If state authorities in Pennsylvania are not analyzing campaign contributions looking for links to casino interests, could news organizations help citizens do the work?

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Filed under Crowd sourcing, DataBank