Lise Olsen on Resources for Getting and Using Data for #ddj

This is a public reposting of the fantastic list compiled by Lise Olsen, investigative reporter at The Houston Chronicle. The list is an accompaniment to her lecture videos for Week 2 of the Knight Center's "Data-Driven Journalism: The Basics" MOOC. You can follow Olsen on Twitter at @chrondigger, and the course at #datajmooc.

Starting Points:

Part one – search strategies and reporting on individuals


Public Records laws –

The Reporters Commitee for Freedom of the Press has info on US laws  – and you do not have to be a citizen to use them.

The Global Investigative Journalism Network has links to laws worldwide.

Advanced google search window here:

Free US corporate records search tool (basic info)

Search systems public records directory:

Links to free US data:


 - click on options to check out other views and information including street level maps, satellite maps (by downloading Google Earth), traffic and weather reports.

Data-driven Stories:

Quick-hit data-driven stories on the murder of J. Jesus Gallegos Alvarez

Houston Chronicle

Infographic by Proyecto Diez (Spanish)

Reporte Indigo – (in Spanish)

Quick-hit TV data driven story: Lee Zurik’s investigation  of travel expenses/payroll data- WVUE

La Nacion’s Senate travel data is explained in this blog entry:

Links to that story and other winners of this year’s Data Journalism awards are here:

More Ideas and Examples:

Part two: companies, beats and easy-to-use data tools


Online phone directories:

 (US) – provides some possible spouse names, ages, etc.

International links:

Find international white pages and yellow pages..

Pacer – US Federal Court records 



 has some free data on major companies worldwide.

Investigative Dashboard:

 - Corporate registries worldwide.

In the US, try

 - official gov’t website

Corporationwiki has basic info:

Occupational Health and Safety Administration (US only) – Search tool for checking company accident and/or inspection reports.

Google’s Public Data Directory

International Census data links:

Links to public records via the London Guardian:

Government data links and directories:

Links to international census data

United Nations databases

The London Guardian’s Datastore

Several cool disaster coverage tools –

Hurricanes – great tips and lectures on the IRE webpage

Weather Underground


International Red Cross

Environmental toxics around the world:

Data-driven toxics story example: Ghost Factories is another example of corporate data – this time about pollution they leave behind

NICAR: Data, training and a list of people who can help with data-driven journalism (see NICAR-L) available from this program of Investigative Reporters & Editors

Investigative Reporters & Editors – resource center

Database library:

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – story ideas, links and how-tos and a new offshore banking database.

Examples of Corporate data-driven stories:

Azerbaijan President’s empire

Oil patch deaths – an analysis of deaths in Texas (two parts)

Interactive map:

ICIJ”s Skin and Bones

Video on how ICIJ Skin and Bones project was done:

Veja’s story about corruption connections – A Network of Scandals was built on its own archives.

Learn to make your own interactives in minutes with these tools:

Google Mymap video is only two minutes long and teaches how to make a map and  even embed photos or videos.

Many Eyes – site with easy-to-try interactives.

Worldle – make graphics out of speeches, text.

Document Cloud (text analysis and storage tool)

If you know how to use spreadsheets…

Use Batchgeo to map dozens or hundreds of addresses by copying and pasting and hitting a button:

Google Fusion tables to create relationship tables or maps.