by Hannah McCartney
118 days ago
Posted In: News
at 12:27 PM | Permalink
Reporters' resources for people who aren't reporters
Members of the media are, unsurprisingly, pretty tapped into places on the web where we can find all sorts of useless and not-so-useless information, depending on whether or not we're complementing our BuzzFeed time on lunch break or looking for something worthy long-form investigative coverage. The fact is there are way more sources of useful information to be dug up on the Internet than even we know of or have time for, even when it's our job to dig it up. If you're into sometimes digging things up for yourself — or verifying claims you hear on the news (always smart) — it's a good idea to be tapped into those kinds of resources; you never know when they might come in handy. Listed below is a sort of starter kit to get you interested in (perfectly legal) snooping online. 1. OpenSecrets.org - Even if you're not a politics nerd, OpenSecrets.org is a resource you should keep in mind particularly around election season, when politicians are making boastful claims that can sometimes are nearly impossible for the average human being to verify. Run by the Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets.org is the result of the group's research into how money is spent among U.S. politicians and its effects on elections and policy. You can learn where politicians are getting the bulk of their campaign contributions, which can be incredibly telling when interpreting a candidate's platform or assessing his or her morality for yourself. You won't always like what you learn, but, well, it's better to learn it. 2. Glassdoor.com - If you've ever filled out a job application and experienced mega-stress over the "desired salary" box trying to decide whether high-balling it will hurt or help your chances, Glassdoor.com can be useful in figuring out what some realistic salary expectations are, whether you're looking to shift fields or just move up the ladder a little. The salaries are submitted by actual current or former employees, so the numbers are much more accurate than a Princeton Review-type database that might give you median salaries for a certain field. Employees can also submit anonymous, detailed company reviews, so you can have an idea of what you're getting into before you say "yes" when you get the offer. 3. EPA Toxic Release Inventory - A database that tracks the management of toxic chemicals facilities release into the air that threaten human health or the environment. It's a little difficult to master at first if you don't browse over the tutorials — there's a lot of complex information to digest — so be sure to do that first. But when you get the hang of it, you can find out what industries are releasing dangerous chemicals in your community — what kind, how much. If you want some broader information on polluters around your neighborhood, enter your zip code at Scorecard.org for an easy-to-read overview of your county's top polluters and how it stacks up compared to pollution and toxic chemical emission rates across the U.S. 4. Clandestine Lab Registry - This is where you can basically find out whether or not you've ever had (or will have) neighbors that were found out to be running a secret meth lab or any other illegal drug operation. The findings date back to 2000; if you're thinking of moving or buying a house, it might be wise to see if the neighborhood (or even your prospective place) was home to a meth lab in the past — the stuff leaves poisonous residue that's sometimes not totally removed by the DEA. Eek. 5. Ohio Prison Census - Find comprehensive statistics about Ohio's incarcerated population, including aggregated data sorted by gender, race/ethnicity, age, felony committed, length of sentence, etc. 6. PACER.gov - Stands for Public Access to Electronic Court Records. Once you make an account — which takes a little bit of time to be verified — you have access to case and docket information from an array of courts, including federal appellate, district and bankruptcy courts. Accessing court documents is 10 cents per page, but if you don't rack up more than $15 in a quarter, the fees are waived. Some people criticize PACER for charging and being difficult to use — so much, in fact, that the spinoff RECAP was launched to make it easier for non-lawyer types to access court records online and for free. And, of course, you can request all kinds of other random bits of information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Familiarize yourself with Ohio's Sunshine Laws to learn about what kind of government records you can and can't access. And here's the city of Cincinnati's guide to submitting a public records request yourself.
Behind the grassroots viral sensation that is Lil Bub, it’s just a cat and her dude
1 Comment · Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Seeing Lil Bub in person is just as
magical as you’d expect. The Internet sensation, referred to online as a
“perma-kitten” due to her cartoonlike baby cat appearance, is as
unusual and hypnotically adorable as she appears on her daily Facebook
photos that reel in an average of 10,000 likes each.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I began this column wondering, “With so many search engines and online sources available, how much is enough?” Before the Internet, phone calls and checking clippings often sufficed.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 10, 2013
A couple of months ago, I started seeing
the words “Harlem Shake” out of the side of my eye at an increasing
rate. Natural, mindless curiosity — which creates the “viralness” of a
cyber phenom — would usually have me clicking to see what this thing — … song? … dance? … video? — was all about.
0 Comments · Tuesday, March 12, 2013
If there’s one thing that Facebook is
good for, it’s learning about stuff that’s happening on the Internet. My
colleague Mike Breen recently posted a humorous comment along with a
story he shared titled, “Mother Tried to Sell Her Kids on Facebook for
$4,000.” Mike’s take: “What an idiot! That’s what Craigslist is for!”
1 Comment · Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Though we’re only about seven weeks into
2013, many of this year’s top stories (or, rather, the stories the media
has made into “top stories”) share a common thread — often, people are
not what they seem.
Boundaries between fantasy, reality blur in Deborah Laufer's modern script
0 Comments · Monday, February 18, 2013
Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer has found a vein of universality in her new play, Leveling Up,
using the world of online gaming in which players vie for higher levels
of power and accomplishment, as a metaphor for growing up.
by German Lopez
More laws to curb human trafficking, feds stop fracking waste, Mallory tours with feds
Gov. John Kasich is ready to support further action on human trafficking.
Members of the Ohio legislature have already committed to further action.
The next few measures will address the statute of limitations for
trafficking, parents who traffic their children and laws affecting
children services and child welfare. Last session, the legislature
passed a “safe harbor” law that changed the classification of children
caught in prostitution from criminals to victims. A 2010 bill also
increased penalties for human trafficking and related crimes.A Texas-based company wants to ship
thousands of barrels of fracking waste through river barges to Ohio. But the
U.S. Coast Guard is halting the plan while it investigates whether the
waste can be transported through water routes and the plan’s potential
environmental impact. Critics are worried Ohio is becoming a dumping ground for fracking waste.Mayor Mark Mallory took a tour
with federal officials to show off developments going on in the city
and the potential route for the streetcar. The tour was meant to show
off projects that have gotten help from the federal government. After
the bus tour, Mallory acknowledged the city has “a lot of work to do,”
but he added, “There really is a buzz about Cincinnati around this
country. It is true.”
A Cincinnati Children’s Hospital survey found one-third of teen girls report meeting with someone they’ve met online.
Psychologist Jennie Noll says abused or neglected girls are more likely
to present themselves in sexually provocative ways on the Internet and
meet more people in real life. Noll warned the meetings can be dangerous for young girls. Apparently, the meetings seem to
happen regardless of Internet filtering software, but high-quality
parenting and monitoring can help.
Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority is planning housing development for Mount Healthy. The development is coming after a study found the need for more housing in the area.
A controversial luxury apartment complex has been approved in Blue Ash. The approval came despite neighbors complaining that the complex will be an eyesore for the community.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in Cincinnati will hire 200 positions.
A recent rise in smuggling led a Conneaut, Ohio, councilman to send a letter to Gov. John Kasich asking for the state to intervene at Corrections Corporation of America’s Lake Erie Correctional Institution.
But Col. John Born, superintendent at the Ohio State Highway Patrol,
wrote in a response that criminal incidents have gone down at the CCA
facility, even though drug smuggling has gone up. He also writes the
state has deployed more cruisers, but he claims local law enforcement
have better means and legal authority to deal with cases at the prison.
In other prison news, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Gary Mohr wants to keep misbehaving inmates in prison longer. In the last legislative session, Mohr helped push laws that reduced sentences for low-crime offenders.
Looks like State Treasurer Josh Mandel is firing 10 percent of his staff. The press release
for the announcement has great wording for the bad news: “Treasurer
Mandel announces further payroll reductions and personnel
Ohio gas prices ticked up in response to hopes of a larger economic recovery.
The Cincinnati Zoo has another adorable animal: the Brazilian ocelot kitten.
Science says global warming won’t suck for everyone.
Canadian killer whales tend to make gains, for example. Should humanity
really risk making killer whales even stronger? They can already take down animals that are on solid surface.
1 Comment · Wednesday, August 15, 2012
When my daughter and I spent our first night together in
the hospital, I gave her an extensive overview
of what this life thing is all about. I began
my lecture (it was a fairly one-sided conversation) with five essential
words of advice: “Always be nice to people.”