Mining untold stories through data analysis

Stories are everywhere. Literally. It’s just a matter of getting off the couch and going out to find them — even in file cabinets of public records offices.

The data is out there. While the government is not necessarily a journalist’s biggest enemy, it sometimes lacks transparency. As David Leonard, UX engineer for Code for America, said, public data is a fascinating tool to find stories.

He found one while still in high school. Leonard took the initiative to report on a local story about football coaches accepting bribes. He made Freedom of Information requests to support the story, and he got the information.

He spent three days unpacking boxes filled with public records on football coaches.

Like him, investigative journalists are learning to question public officials by demanding to know what goes around them.

The key is not to be afraid to look for that data and analyze it to discover untold stories.

Need inspiration following his footsteps? Take a look at some of Leonard’s motivational tips.

Sometimes, the government doesn’t intent to be secretive or unhelpful. It just seems that way.

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Public employees are there to help people, but they can’t control everything. They work under a system too, so be kind.


Public data can be your friend when telling new and investigative pieces.

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But seriously.

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Work as a community to make a difference.

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Visit to see how data visualization impacts communities in Indianapolis, Chicago and New York.