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10 tools for investigative reporting in 2016

10 tools for investigative reporting in 2016

Sam Berkhead | December 22, 2015

2015 was a big year for investigative journalism.

From the revelations of YakunovychLeaks in Ukraine to the “Fatal Extraction” investigations across Africa, investigative journalists have been responsible for uncovering some of society’s biggest abuses and holding people in power accountable.

But with newsrooms worldwide downsizing their investigative staffs to cut costs, it’s becoming harder to allocate resources to the journalism itself.

Luckily, the Internet holds a vast amount of free tools, resources and open databases available for aspiring investigative reporters. Here’s IJNet’s roundup of the best tools for investigative journalism to use throughout 2016:

Tools to find open and public data:

The Google Public Data Explorer houses data sets from some of the world’s largest research institutions, from the World Bank to the International Monetary Fund.

If you’re looking to uncover stories affecting Europe, the European Data Portal might be your best bet. You’ll find public data on a range of topics, including the environment, economy, education, health and more.

Investigative Dashboard offers an array of resources and guides relating to investigative reporting. In addition, you’ll be able to peruse a variety of open data sets around the world — from Abu Dhabi to Zambia.

Tools to extract data from the web:

Tabula is a free online tool that extracts data tables from PDF files. These tables can then be exported into a spreadsheet, where you’ll be able to edit or copy-and-paste the data according to your needs.

Import.io allows you to transform web pages into usable data. This tool is especially helpful if you’re hoping to investigate an organization that doesn’t make its data readily available for download.

If you’re working with public or primary source documents, DocumentCloud can help to direct you toward information on the people, places and organizations mentioned in these documents. You can also browse through DocumentCloud’s catalog of more than 1 million public documents.

Tools to access niche data sets:

Offshore Leaks Database holds nearly 30 years of information regarding ownership of offshore companies worldwide. If you’re hoping to investigate offshore companies and jurisdictions, this may be a good starting point.

If you’re interested in investigating government spending in your country, OpenSpending might be able to help. The site contains 1,095 data sets from 76 countries’ public spending records.

LittleSis is an online watchdog that keeps tabs on accountability and influence within society’s most powerful circles. It’s a great resource if you’re hoping to hold the 1 percent accountable with your investigations.

OpenCorporates offers data on more than 93 million companies worldwide, along with an API service to help you search and understand this data more easily.

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Alex Steffler.

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