Home Who's Reisner? Journalism Florida International University Other Stuff
Database & Public Records Reporting/JOU3121 | News Workshop/JOU 3113



Data From Scratch

  The data we're going to work on was obtained by Augustina in response to her public records request for Port St. Lucie's vendors.

  Augustina received two different Excel files from the city. They are in different formats and seem to contain records of different expenses. I imported the spreadsheets into Access and, to simplify things, eliminated a couple of fields.

  The first thing we need to know is what exactly is in each table, the kind of information stored in each field. This information is critical no matter what kind of data you're dealing with. First, what may seem self-evident may not be.   Second, it sometimes happens that folks who maintain databases change the kind of information in a field without changing the name of the field.

  I've asked Augustina to get that information for us, but we can start working before that.

  The first thing you do when you receive new data is just kind of look at it. You sort on the different fields to see what floats to the top. You run some basic queries, totaling by vendor, for example.

  Your job is to download the data and, on the listserv, to start sharing your thoughts. As we did this morning, we should divide our questions into two categories -- data questions and reporting questions.

  The database is pretty big, by the way, about 8.5 megabytes, so you'll want to download it on a fast Internet connection. It won't fit on a floppy, of course, so store it on your flash drives or on a CD.


  Here's the data:  portstlucie.mdb






Home | Who's Reisner? | Journalism | Florida International University | Other Stuff