“Turn documents into data,” is the tagline for DocumentCloud, a free Web tool for journalists who want to search, analyze, annotate, publish and publicly share certain primary source documents.
Mark Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reporters & Editors, which operates DocumentCloud, gave an hour-long workshop on what the tool does and why it’s useful for journalists on Thursday, the first day of Health Journalism 2013.
Basically, the site allows journalists to take PDFs – the largely unalterable file format of most government documents – and make them as easy to work with as a normal Microsoft Word document.
Horvit said the goal is to put public documents in the hands of everyday people and in a useful way.
“We talk a lot about transparency as journalists,” he said. “DocumentCloud provides transparency in two different ways. First it allows you to help government and business be more transparent by taking their documents, posting them and making them available to your audience. But it also provides transparency for the work that you do. In other words, readers no longer have to just take your word for it. You can post all the source documents for your story, so that your audience has a chance to see what you got.”
Among the features of DocumentCloud that Horvit highlighted: Continue reading