What's Out There?  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   April 2000

What's Out There?   

By Jeff South
Jeff South is an associate professor in the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has been a reporter and editor at newspapers in Arizona, Texas and Virginia.     


A sampling of online databases:

Political contributions
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Web site has campaign donations for the city's 1999 mayoral race at www.philly.com/specials/99/philamayor. The records haven't been updated since early 1999. Data for New Jersey's 1993 and 1997 gubernatorial races are at www.philly.com/data/njgov/njgov.asp.

Property records
At http://interactive.philly.com/packages/njshore/ lookup.htm, the Inquirer has a 1996 database of 90,000 residential property records for the Jersey Shore. Each record shows the property's address and value and the owner's name and permanent address.

Public employees' salaries
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution has a database of football coaches' salaries at www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/reports/paydirt/query.html. Results show the coach's teaching credentials, base teacher pay, pay supplements and total salary, and the school district's average teacher pay.
The Augusta Chronicle in Georgia has listed hundreds of government employees and their salaries at www.augustachronicle.com/special/payroll/. The data have not been updated since December 1997.

Crime reports
At www.charlotte.com/crime, the Charlotte Observer has a database of crimes reported to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police since 1997. It will return a list of crimes reported in each block. Each record lists the type of offense and when it happened. The database is updated every month.
At www.philly.com/packages/data/philacrime/, the Philadelphia Inquirer has a database of more than 1 million crimes handled by city police from 1991 to 1998. Each record shows when the crime happened, the block or intersection where it occurred and the initial status, such as whether an arrest was made. The records do not list the names of victims or suspects or exact addresses.

Restaurant inspections
The Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Georgia, publishes restaurant inspections at www.l-e-o.com/specialsections/health. The database provides not only the inspection date, inspector's name and restaurant's score but also the inspector's comments. The newspaper updates the data every week.

Medical complaints
At www.phoenixnewtimes.com/listings/bomex, Phoenix New Times posts complaints against doctors filed with the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners. You can search by a doctor's name, and the database will list each complaint and whether the investigation is open, the case has been dismissed or the physician was disciplined. The database has not been updated since September 1998.

Source: Web site visits on March 1

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