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Thursday, 27th October 2011

U.S. Newspaper Reporters' Perception and Use of Government Data

Source: Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

From the report introduction:

The 2011 Government Data Transparency Survey was conducted from February 14 to March 22, 2011. Six hundred and two reporters and editors in the United States took part in the survey. Journalists in Missouri (N=82) were oversampled for the survey. Five hundred and ninety-eight completed surveys were used for the data analysis below.

The results showed that reporters regularly turn to government websites looking for data that will help their reporting. In general, the reporters believe that different categories of data should be more accessible to them than the data actually are. Among the different categories of data, information about contracts and spending are the most accessible. Local and state governments are considered more transparent than the federal government. Local governments also are considered more accountable than state and federal governments.

The reporters did not seem to have difficulties in using and understanding the government data online. They were also neutral on whether they need to a third-party organization to help them understand the data. Spreadsheets are the tool most often used by the reporters to analyze data, with statistical software, such as SPSS and SAS, the least used.

+ Link to full report (PDF; 850.25 KB)


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Peggy Garvin, of Garvin Information Consulting, is the author of United States Government Internet Directory (Bernan Press) and Real World Research Skills, 2009 (TheCapitol.Net). In her 20 years in the information business, Peggy has managed electronic information products and services in a variety of environments, including commercial publishing, e-commerce, law firms, and the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress. Peggy's work has been recognized with the 2011 SLA Dow Jones Leadership Award. She has a Masters of Library Science degree from Syracuse University School of Information Studies.

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