DIY database: The joys and hazards of building it from scratch
What happens when your story requires data that has not already been collected, packaged and dropped into a spreadsheet by somebody else? For investigative reporters, that’s where the fun begins, because if the database has never been built, it’s a good bet the story has never been written. But the next steps are also fraught with peril, as you begin to find and extract information that can be converted to reportable data.
We’ll walk through a couple examples and start playing around with some congressional data that is a notorious challenge but also regularly produces good stories.
This session is good for: anyone with at least basic spreadsheet skills.
Singer runs the investigative unit at WGBH, the NPR affiliate in Boston. He previously ran political and congressional coverage for USA TODAY and the Gannett network, and created and led an investigative unit for the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call. He once handed his editor a sealed envelope with the name and contact info of a secret and somewhat sketchy source he was going to meet and said, "Open this if you have not heard from me by 4 p.m."
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