Amanda Hickman explains how the web-based tool DocumentCloud, founded in 2009 with a Knight News Challenge grant, lets journalists engage with the public and knowledgeable sources. Use it to analyze, annotate, and publish the documents behind your reporting.
- SEJ Publication Types:Visibility:
The Right-To-Know Network has been around since 1989. Today, with a modern and searchable Web interface, it offers access to some data that reporters would be hard put to find anywhere else. Most important is its collection of Risk Management Plans — which chemical plants are required to maintain to prevent, prepare for, and respond to toxic disasters.
At Ethics.gov, search several databases with a single search-term entry, potentially speeding discovery of information. It includes data on lobbying registrations, political action committees, contributions to candidates, travel reports, foreign agents registrations, and more. But some open-government advocates consider it merely a down payment on a more comprehensive system.Topics on the Beat:
The organization Maplight now offers three additional ways of looking at its data. Over 14 million records cover ties between lobbying money, legislators, and either all legislation or that relating to several environmental topics. This information can help you better cover Congressional election races of interest to your audience.
The confidential National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool helps the livestock owner/operator figure out how changing on-site practices can reduce emissions of ammonia, methane, volatile organic compounds, hydrogen sulfide, fine particulates, and odors. This may be useful for journalists; whether an owner/operator will discuss the details of their operation or not, there's a story.
The searchable database is finally being published online for the first time after Congress mandated it in a rider to the 2008 omnibus appropriations bill. EPA compromised after protests from industry, limiting it to only the largest emitters. Pick only emitters in certain states. Focus on emissions of each of the six greenhouse gases it includes — or to customize views according to size of emission or emitting industry.
Although details of what is said between lobbyists and the White House officials who rewrite agency rules remain largely secret, the Center for Progressive Reform's searchable database allows you to track whether OMB is meeting its deadlines, whether a meeting is linked to an OIRA regulatory review, and whether OIRA changed the rule.
Overcome limited budgets for travel and visuals on ocean stories with Google Earth's new realm. Place your story in the context of many mapped layers of ocean features, as well as a realistic rendition of subsea and above-surface views, and add your own text, photos, images, video, narration, sound clips, and multimedia.
If you do investigative reporting, you probably rely often on large numbers of documents to make your case. This new, free tool can help you manage the evidence in a way that supports your story and helps you move seamlessly from research to publication.
Reporters can now get a better picture of breaking environmental pollution events via SkyTruth Alerts on air and water pollution incidents, toxic spills, and more.