JTools: Diving Into Databases

As of January, 2017, this JTools unit is not being updated, but much of the information is still accurate.

Students: Use the links for either option

Option 1: Students learn on their own by watching the video and doing the exercises 

This video takes awhile to download; if it doesn’t use the link below. Video updated 1/16

video link: http://youtu.be/F5ituU3M5TI

Option 2: Students learn in the classroom, with the professor

Journalists Use Databases

  • To enhance your stories

  • To find stories in the data

  • To provide data interactively  for readers

    • Who compiled it?
    • Why was it compiled?
    • How was it compiled?
    • Where did the data come from?
    • What is the data (content)?

and remember, mistakes are common in databases

Reminders about data


1. Demographics

a. Census. gov   Quick Facts – for basic information. Search by state. On the state page look at the top to find a county or city.   Census Handbook for Media
b. CensusReporter


a. Political Campaign Data

State: NYOpenGovernment  from Attorney General or Open Book New York  from comptroller

Federal: Open Secrets or   Federal Elections Commission  

Ways to find more about donors

  1. Phone database  Whitepages.com
  2. Search engine Google
  3. Media search  Syracuse Newspapers at SU Libraries
  4. Linked In
  5. NYS charities database charitiesnys.com
  6. Non-profits database Guidestar

b. Property Tax Records

City of Syracuse

Onondaga County

Others: BRBSearch Systems


a.Company filings
    • 10-K, which is the annual report, includes executive salaries
    • 10- Q covering business operations, property, finances, pending suits, officers, general background
    • 8-K, designating significant changes such as a sale, new management, a lawsuit,  court judgment or fineEdgar – search SEC filings by publicy-traded companies (on stock exchange)Tips from financial reporter Diana Henriques, about best documents:
b.Charities and non-profits

<style=”padding-left: 30px;”>•Fed gov’t: IRS

•State gov’t: NYS

•Independent: Guidestar.org and Citizen Audit

4.  Criminal Justice

a. Courts

local criminal courts not available

Onondaga Supreme Court – trial court for civil cases (not highest court in the state)

b. Police Shootings

c. Sex Offenders Registry
New York State
d. Crime Reports

      US Dept of Justice Uniform Crime Reports

5. Transportation

Aviation: Landings  tail N-numbers


questions? contact Professor Fought and put JTools in the subject line



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