More Research Tools
We've included a short list of sites below to give you an idea of the kinds of information available—you may find just the sort of background info you need, served up in an accessible, easy-to-use format.
Good journalists know how to get the most out of Internet search engines. Here's a helpful guide for more sophisticated Google searches.
This is a neat tool for helping you locate public records by state. At the website, you'll see a map of the U.S. You place your cursor on a particular state, then click on a county name to learn which kinds of public records are available online.
BRB Publications is another good place to access public records. Links to free public records are listed on the left, and include the Federal Courts, Federal Record Center Chart and Other Useufl Federal Sites.
The U.S. Census Bureau has an overwhelming amount of data. To help you search it more efficiently, try this website for journalists (funded with a Knight News Challenge grant).
City-Data.com serves as a quick reference for population and demographics for cities across the U.S. For instance, you can discover a city's median resident age, the numbers and percentages of males and females, estimated median household income from two years ago, and mean housing prices (owned and operated by Advameg, an information analysis company).
Web pages sometimes disappear, but there are still ways to retrieve them. One of the most accessible is the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, which archives snapshots of many Web pages.
Governing.com calls itself "the nation's leading media platform covering politics, policy and management for state and local government leaders." It's a good place to find analysis and news about issues such as health, infrastructure and workforce.
The National Archives and Records Administration allows you to look up all kinds of federal documents online—presidential papers, veterans' service records, historical records.
The National Center for Educational Statistics is a good place to look for stats that can put local numbers in perspective.