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Looking for data on OSHA, federal contracts, mortgages? Try IRE

Jaimi Dowdell training director IRE Reynolds Center workshop Be a Better Business Watchdog

IRE Training Director Jaimi Dowdell explains how to create pivot tables in Excel at a Reynolds Center workshop.

In yesterday’s post, John Ryan of KUOW said to keep numbers to a minimum when writing for radio, a tip from his series looking at unsafe jobs. John also offered a great tip on finding data, which I’m focusing on today.

Today’s Tip: Check the Investigative Reporters and Editors’ National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting databases to keep from reinventing the wheel.

“The NICAR data library provides cleaned-up databases from OSHA and lots of other federal agencies at modest prices to journalists,” John says. “Using their data instead of cleaning up mistakes and inconsistencies yourself can be a huge time saver, especially if (like me) you’re not a database whiz.”

The more than 40 available data sets include information on SBA loans, home mortgages, federal contracts and consumer product safety.

The Reynolds Center and IRE often team together on training, so many of you may be familiar with the group. For those of you who aren’t, this post is for you.

"Be a Better Business Watchdog - CAR for Business Journalists" workshop is offered by the Reynolds Center, with IRE.

Coulter Jones, senior information specialist for IRE/NICAR, says the organization gets OSHA data every year and creates a database.

“Included in this database are details about inspections as well as location and NAICS codes, which lets reporters search by industry type,” Coulter says. “A complete record layout, detailing what is in this data set is available on our website.”

You can access the OSHA Statistics & Data page that allows you to look up particular businesses. But Coulter says if you’re looking for trends, you’ll need to join IRE, which costs $60, to purchase the database, which costs from $210 to $460, depending on the size of your media outlet. You can also buy data for just your state for less.

John says he also attended an IRE training session on how to produce pivot tables to analyze the data. You can learn more about pivot tables and using Excel at free Reynolds Center workshops, offered in partnership with IRE, on Sept. 13 in Seattle and Nov. 8 in Cleveland.

In Featured, Investigation.

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