Reporter's Toolbox

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Reporter's Toolbox is a regular column focused on the world of data journalism, with an emphasis on data tools, techniques and database resources that journalists can use to improve their environmental reporting.

For questions and comments, or to suggest future Reporter's Toolboxes, email Toolbox Editor Joseph A. Davis at

Journalists can receive Reporter's Toolbox free by subscribing to the SEJournal Online, the digital news magazine of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here.

July 15, 2013

  • Reporter's Toolbox


     When SEJ decided last year to survey members about which SEJ programs they value most, a funny thing happened – we discovered that many of the programs most popular among some members aren’t even on the radar screen for others. In fact, in com- ments at the end of the survey, some members expressed a desire for programs ... that SEJ already offers.

    We also heard from many members who seemed in responding to the survey to express doubt about how much SEJ can help them. For example:

April 15, 2013

  • InvestigateWest's Robert McClure and Jason Alcorn explain how to spin the local angle about how parks built or improved with money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund are increasingly being illegally privatized or converted to something other than parks — including sharing their searchable database of almost 40,000 park grants.

January 15, 2013

  • Find a rich collection of online resources courtesy of the National Library of Medicine and others, compiled by SEJ member and NLM technical information specialist Philip Wexler.

April 15, 2012

  • 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.

January 15, 2012

April 15, 2011

October 15, 2010

  • Jim Schwab, manager of the American Planning Association’s Hazards Planning Research Center, writes in Part 1 of a two-part series about the dynamics of recovery, silver linings, and post-disaster journalism.