Monday, February 28, 2005

More on Choicepoint:
The Atlanta Business Chronicle has a story about Choicepoint's continuing legal problems, hosted here on the MSNBC site. Turns out the company's been sued frequently for misusing personal data. Lots of good background in this story. In another related story, the Palm Beach Post reports that 10,000 Floridians were among those whose data was stolen. (These stories via Joe Adams.)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Weekend update: Other things found this week:
This week started out with the death of Hunter S. Thompson and didn't improve: Lots of useful reference sources but not much else showed up this week.
Reading Thompson was so important to me and to many of my generation. Some of us may have been conflicted about some of his habits, but the writing always rang true to me. Last night I ran across a 2003 interview with Tim Russert. I was shocked how much he seemed to have deteriorated, even then. I guess it was time to go. A couple links below; I had a few more links on the other blog during the week.

More links....

  • International Architecture Database has info on 13,000 projects.
  • Great baseball history links from Shirl Kennedy at Resourceshelf.
  • Documents on Social Security and Pensions from the Congressional Budget Office. Studies, reports, etc. going back to 1978.
  • African American History Timeline from a history prof at Washington U.
  • will be a place lay persons can get medical info including journal articles, etc... Not yet online (due this spring) but you can sign up for more info.
  • Conflict termination in the Iraqi war 2003: a bibliography from library at Air University.
  • Birds of North America a new guide from Percevia which lets you search by lots of characteristics.
  • Foreign Born Population: latest figures from Census.
  • How to use RSS to follow your beat; detailed instructions (using My Yahoo!, one of the easiest RSS readers) from Mark Schaver at CAR Report. (Note Neil Reisner's ditty on the side.)
  • Gender Stats from World Bank.

    Some Interesting stories/Weblogs:
  • Tom Wolfe manages to mention Carl Hiaasen (and the Rock Bottom Remainders) in his eulogy to Hunter S. Thompson in the WSJ's Opinion Journal. Also check out Joel Achenbach's story of a visit to HST.

  • Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Reisner the songsmith:
    I'm so glad Lex Alexander posted this, since I was wanting to: Neil Reisner's take on the Lion's song from Wizard of Oz, adapted to Computer Assisted Reporting, in a message to the NICAR-L listserv. I'll let Lex tell it.

    HST's passion
    A topic touched on in a couple Hunter S. Thompson tributes: Thompson's passion for journalism and the reasons he left it to try something new. Check out Phil Luciano, and Henry Allen in the Washington Post.
    And I love this line in David Carr's appreciation in the NYT:
      Of all of the so-called practitioners of New Journalism, Mr. Thompson was the one who was willing to insert himself and his capacious reserve of outrage into the middle of every story...Not only was he not neutral, he was angry, an avenging proxy for the American polity. Brick by brick, he tore away a wall - since rebuilt - that made politics seem like a low-stakes minstrel show.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    HST as journalist:
    I posted some links to columns that suggest Hunter S. Thompson's writing was a precursor to blogging on my Herald blog, and Sheila Lennon (linked there) has the best collection of HST links I've found. But here's a posting by Bob Stepno on Thompson as journalist that seems to say it all. (Via South Knox Bubba.)
    Mentioned in the Stepno links: An Appreciation, by Joel Achenbach, about a visit to Thompson, ending:
      "When you invent a great character for yourself you may be trapped by it the rest of your days. To be an icon is a brutal job. The early reports say Thompson ended his own life with a gun. That's not a gonzo conclusion to his story, that's just a tragedy."

    Sunday, February 20, 2005

    Weekend update: Other things found this week:
    I have been following the Jeff Gannon story on my other blog; this story just continues to intrigue me for the combination of journalism ethics questions, blogging using investigative research, and political skullduggery. In the latest ramification, a conservative 'news' site connected to Talon News is claiming a liberal reporter with no qualifications is also admitted to White House briefings. Hmm.

    More links....

  • The Complete (Hans Christian) Andersen.
  • Disorder at Budget Motels, a Dept of Justice study.
  • Compendium of Research on Violence Against Women, 1993-2004, also from Justice.
  • Here's a newspaper (The Ventura County Star) Blogging its front page decisions daily.
  • Tracing former U.S. military personnel, good guide from the U.S. Embassy in London.
  •, a new science search from the U.S. govt. Alerts are available to set up a topic that you want to be notified about when new items appear.
  • What is Podcasting? a good summary if you don't understand the concept. From New Scientist.
    Governments, Politics:
  • White House Tapes Center at U.Va. has tapes of 6 presidents from 1940-1973.
  • Federal Court Management Statistics, 2004 Caseloads, etc.
  • Records About Military Goods and Services Provided to Foreign Countries, ca. 1950 - 2002, from the National Archives.
  • State Estimates of Substance Use, '99-2003
  • Facster, interesting new site with fun facts, facts and contacts lists, and searchable versions of the U.S. Statistical Abstract and other stats books.
    Public Records:
  • No Place to Hide, multipmedia report from Robert O'Harrow, WashPost reporter working with a grant from Center for Investigative Journalism, on the personal data available from companies like Choicepoint. Includes an interview with Hank Asher, among others.
  • Joe Adams' Florida records news blog is back strong, with links to great stories from all over the state using public records; also, for more Florida news these blogs are great: Florida Blog, Florida Politics blog, and Florida News blog.
  • Political Insider, a new blog at Sarasota Herald-Tribune by Jeremy Wallace.
  • Katherine Harris' blog
  • Manatee mortality stats, 2004; can also search by individual manatee.
  • Overtown (Miami), a new Web site.
  • Collins Center on Public Policy working on issues facing Florida.

    Some Interesting stories/Weblogs:
  • How to save blogs from ourselves from Lost Remote.
  • The Baby Name Wizard: see a graphical representation of name popularity over the decades. Hold cursor over lines to see names or type in a name. Interesting to see a name like 'Robert', near the top for several decades, now not very popular at all, contrasting with names like 'Emily', out of favor in the mid-20th c., now near the top.

  • Thursday, February 17, 2005

    First 'Mallard Fillmore', now this:
    The blogging/MSM story just gets bigger and bigger, culminating in this great cartoon from Pat Oliphant:

    (link to full size)

    More newspaper lists:
    I listed this site a few months back but recently got an email from the creator requesting a listing and it's worth noting again, especially since I haven't added it to the resource page yet: Newspaper Index, which links to 'the best newspapers in all countries'. Not the best for finding smaller newspapers anywhere (only lists 11 newspapers in the U.S. and a couple of news portals), but good for finding a news source in a country you're not familiar with.

    And, via j Baumgart, a new listing of newspapers with RSS from Sidewalk Theory. The neat thing about this one is it lists most U.S. papers, not just those with RSS (1178 of the former, 78 of the latter, a sad stat); and you can change the format to show papers by state, by owner, by type of front-end system, or show only the sites with RSS.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    Hot tips:
    Cyberjournalist Jonathan Dube, in his Poynter column, has a guide to RSS for journalists. It's the best quick guide to this topic I've seen, and should convince more journalists to get on the RSS train. Even better, he's set up a Cyberjournalist Bloglines feed with links to news on journalism, current events, tracking rumors, hot topics, hot documents, and word of the day. Great stuff.

    I linked to the PI News blog a couple months ago, but am now finding the blog to be an essential tool for helping ferret out news and information about public records and investigation. The blog is by long-time California PI Tamara Thompson, and should be an essential read for investigative journalists and those interested in open records. She even recently linked a site on folk medicines, for ...finding "out about the attributes of the various medicinal treatments your criminal defense clients were subject to as children". You never know.

    And, in Blogger news, a new format for the comments on Blogger blogs. Previously you had to be registered with Blogger or comment anonymously. Now that's up to the creator, and comments can appear in a pop-up window.

    Saturday, February 12, 2005

    Weekend update: Other things found this week:
    Here's the best story of the week: Lexington Herald finds fugitive the cops couldn't track using public records databases. Great example of why journalists need access to these sorts of records and why closing records because of privacy concerns is not a good idea. These folks in Texas didn't know they had a dangerous fugitive living among them. Congrats to Linda Johnson and the Lexington Herald team.

    More links....

  • Status of Coral Reefs of the World, report from Australian Institute of Marine Science.
  • Marine Health Check, 2005, from World Wildlife Federation (via The Guardian): not good.
  • National Security Archive: 9/11 Commission staff report on FAA.
  • Fish Online, an international guide to sustainable harvest/fish types.
  • Thinking about political polarization: Brookings Inst. study says Americans aren't really that far apart.
  • Public attitudes about Social Security and private accounts: survey by AARP.
  • IFEX: International Freedom of Information Exchange.
  •, another phone number directory with lots of searches available, easy to use.
  • World Press Photo contest winners: amazing.
  • Raising a stir: Philip Meyer's new book, The Vanishing Newspaper, is getting cited and dissected everywhere, including some interesting thoughts while reading it from Tim Porter on his First Draft blog. Also: Meyer's summary in CJR.
  • How to conduct a background check great guide from legal research guru Genie Tyburski.
  • Federal scientists and engineers, a searchable directory.
    Public Records:
  • Pretrieve: a new free public records/address search. Not as complete as pay services but has a nice selection of databases and is a bit easier to use than something like which requires searching in each location. As with all public records sources, this is a good tool to finding out if a record exists but always best to check the original source (local courts, etc.) to confirm.

    Some Interesting stories/Weblogs:
  • LeskoBlog: Matthew Lesko was a serious information professional with an interest in government information before he started those silly TV ads. The blog is a bit of a mixture of both.
  • Daily Business Review reports Dept of Justice is trying to charge for information.
  • Collard Patch, a Southern recipe blog.
  • Internet Archive's live music archive now has free downloadable recordings from 20,000 concerts.
  • Super Bowl Ads, all available for download.

  • Thursday, February 10, 2005

    The Jeff Gannon story made the major media today; lots of discussion including a media analyst accusing bloggers of snarky behavior. Don't know how you could get more snarky than the NY Daily News's headline; for more, links to some of the blogs with heaviest coverage on the Infomaniac blog at The Herald. There's also a good collection of today's links on Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing blog on

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Archives for the common good:
    Here's the best argument I've seen for why newspaper archives should be open and free from Adrian Holovaty of
      Helping the community -- making the world a better place -- is why a lot of people went into journalism, believe it or not.

    Impressive work:
    Think bloggers aren't journalists? Check out the investigative research being done on the story of Talon News White House correspondent Jeff Gannon. And here. (And see what happened, here.) Imagine what they could do with access to even more databases. This is fascinating. Of course, much of the research is based on assumptions (the actual name of the 'reporter', the addresses in person locator searches), but the assumptions are explained as being such. Are any 'legitimate' (mainstream) news organizations working on this story? The Boston Globe did do a pretty good rundown on him last week. Can't wait to see what else comes out.

    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    War Blogs
    Via Resourceshelf, a great article in Searcher on Iraq War Blogs. This includes links to several blogs as well as to some portals and directories. This is the most complete list I've seen anywhere; Useful stuff.

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Great read:
    Don't miss Amy Driscoll's wonderful story about a Bangladeshi woman, burned by acid, whose life has been transformed by the efforts of Americans who arranged for her to live in South Florida and undergo years of plastic surgery. And don't miss the stunning photos by Jared Lazarus. In Sunday's Miami Herald.

    Weekend update: Other things found this week:
    I don't seem to be getting online on the weekend as often, these days, so sorry about the late post this week.

    More links....

  • Encyclopedia of World History online at Bartleby.
  • Latest airline performance report shows delays, lost baggage up in 2004.
  • In Motion: a study of the African-American migration experience, in multimedia from NY Public Library.
  • Milestones in Garbage, a timeline from EPA.
  • Atlas of climate change in 150 bird species in Eastern U.S. from USDA.
  • DoD has updated the Military casualty information page to include lots of stats and namelists from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. (Note not as useful as far as sorting, etc. as
  • WebsBiggest Web directory search engine. This one is different, just searching any of several directories.
  • Google Local joins the various local directories and finds addresses, map and directions as well as similar businesses in the area. Nice thing about this: do a regular Google search and click on 'Local' at top of page and your search will automatically be directed to whatever address, town or ZIP you specify. Example: Newspapers in 33132.
  • New address for Florida Giftgivers' Guide, listing of charitable entities.
  • Florida Child Abuse Death Review, 2004 from DoH.
  • Florida Dept of Corrections Annual Report: lots of stats.
    The global network for democratic media".
    Public Records:
  • Land Register Online: look up properties in the UK.
  • Border Deaths database: Arizona Star keeps track of all illegal immigrant deaths in the Tucson district.
  • Safe Driving Institute's bad driver database: need to register to access this, which is also available to law enforcement. Unsubstantiated reports of road ragers, etc.

    Some Interesting stories/Weblogs:
  • New media blogs from Media Bistro: Fishbowl DC; Fishbowl NY; Fishbowl LA.
  • The Razzies: Golden Raspberry Awards.

  • Friday, February 04, 2005

    Fun things:
    Woodward and Bernstein papers at UT, now in an online exhibit. Some great original files here. I love this, it looks like someone scooped up my old desk at the Washington Post.

    Christian Science Monitor has an interesting story on whether newspapers (and their archives) should be free, a topic we're all talking about lately. Includes some thoughtful quotes from really interesting people, like John Batelle:
      A publication without a point of view isn't worth reading," avers John Battelle, a cofounder of Wired magazine and columnist at BoingBoing. "At the end of the day, this fabled mythology of objectivism has hampered newspapering."

    AskSam does it again with Searchable State of the Union address (you'll have to download the AskSam search software -- the viewer is free). There are links to all the other political documents AskSam has been putting online, a guide to how to create this sort of database, and useful links.

    On another note, I should mention that after I complained a couple weeks ago that I wasn't finding good local news on Topix I got an email from CEO Rich Skrenta asking for specifics and telling me that they recently changed their local news relevance algorithm. When I went back and checked the same local news I normally browse, there were again lots of stories (the page that once had a normal 20 stories had gone down to 3 for awhile). Skrenta also clarified that Topix does normally have news from international sources, although when both of us checked the tsunami news I had cited, only U.S. sources were showing up.
    All this discussion of a news source I have used and liked for quite awhile now, leads in to the news that Topix has reached a deal with the New York Times to feature links to their stories.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    Good stuff:
    Lots more discussion of the open news archive question from Mark Glaser, in Online Journalism Review.

    Al Tompkins has Good links on the Pope on his 'Morning Meeting' page.

    Sunshine Week: promoting your right to know nationally.