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Investigator's Guide to Info. Sources
GAO site explains types of records kept by local/state governments, links to federal agencies, businesses, directories, investigation databases.

SPJ Open Doors
Tips for accessing public records.

Social Security Death Records

SOS Social Security Number Watch
Match a social security number to a holder and validate. Run through the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard.

Public Records Online
Search state-by-state criminal records, real estate information and more.


BRB Public Records online.
A huge sites with links to free and pay public records sites.

Social Security Death Index
Get the SSN of the deceased.

ProPublica Recovery Tracker: How Much Stimulus Funding Is Going To Your County?

75 Tools for Investigative Journalism
From Ezra Eeman of Journalism2ls.

A Journalist's Guide to Web Scraping

IRE 2015 Tipsheets
Tipsheets from the 2015 IRE conference.
Links to almost 5,000 public records databases. Claims to be the largest free collection of public records databases on the Web. Formerly the PAC-Info. site, just click on a state and you'll get a list of all free public record collections for that state. Most include incorporation filings.

Open Prism: Data Portal Search
Search data portals from all over the world by typing in one keyword.

Atlas of Public Stocks
A map of all publicly listed companies from around the world.

THOMAS: Congress to Year Converter
Track what years are associated with a particular government.
This site charges a fee. Search state/local criminal, DMV, prison records and more.

FOIA Machine
Automate your FOIAs.

Aggregates public records data to make it easier for reporters to search and also set alerts.

Sqoop Tipsheet

Journalism Tools: Investigative Resources
A Pinterest page full of investigative tools and resources.

Expose Facts
A whistleblower's website.

How Can Online Research Tools Aid Investigative Reporters?

Security Tools for Investigative Journalists
Powerpoint full of resources.

Birth Database
Search birth certificate records for free.

Find public records databases galore.

People finder tool.

BRB Publications
Search public records by state.

Center for Investigative Reporting

Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Resource Center
Story samples, tip sheets and more.

IRE 2012 Links
Storify collection of tools from the IRE national convention seminars.

Gannett @ IRE
Tumblr blog by Gannett reporters from 2012 IRE conference.

Federal FOIA Appeals Guide
From the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Filter and sort census information. Super tool.
From the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, this is a one-stop management tool for public-records projects and filing FOIA requests.

20 Tools for Investigative Reporting

Using Social Media to Generate Investigative Story Ideas

Download Data Without Scraping
Filter and sort census information. Super tool.

A live-system for search empowering investigative journalists to setup an own open-source search engine on an encrypted external device to search in a large amount of documents and files.

Unlock data trapped inside .PDFs.

Upload and share a .PDF. Good for collaborative work.

BBC'S College of Journalism: Useful Investigative Journalism Tools

Spreadsheet Journalism Blog
Digital journalist Abbott Katz blogs from London. His blog "helps bring you up to speed with some of Excel's important capabilities, and points you at the story possibilities boxed inside the data."

Sunlight Academy
Training site for how to use Sunlight Foundation resources for unlocking government data.

Medicare: Nursing Home Inspections
Includes complaints and inspections. Search by state to find homes with problems in your neighborhood.

Investigative Dashboard
A treasure drove of research and public records tools, both U.S. and abroad.

Center for Investigative Journalism: Statistics for Journalists
A 12-page tipsheet.

Deteriorating Bridges Database
Sort files in Excel to find bridges and overpasses in your area that are in poor shape. Great public safety story.

Train Wrecks Database
From the Department of Transportation Office of Safety, this database allows you to find the most dangerous train crossings in your area.

EPA: Toxic Release Inventory Database
Has more than 650 toxic chemicals being released into communities. You can search all the way down to ZIP code level.

USDA Database: Ag Commodities by State, Country and ZIP Code

Investigative Desktop
Investigative Reporters and Editors links page for investigative journalists.

Sunlight Foundation: Online Foreign Agent Lobbying Database
The Foreign Agent Registration Act requires the Justice Department to maintain detailed reports of lobbying firms hired by foreign governments and by organizations. Just select legislators from a menu and it will show their records, lobbyist ties, etc.

This Sunlight Foundation site adds political context to news stories by scanning news articles you enter for the names of donors, corporations, lobbyists and politicians and shows how they are connected by contributions. Free site.
Morningstar's guide to what's hiding in SEC filings.

ComFind Public Records Site
News, laws, initiatives and activities that relate in any way to the keeping and distribution of information and public records.

ProPublica Nursing Home Inspection Reports

Google Search Techniques for Journalists
Many tips and tricks.
Search nine broad categories for relevant data, stats.

West Coast investigative journalism news site from former Seattle Post-Intelligencer journalists.

FEC: Detailed Files About Candidates, Parties and Other Committees
Information on contributors, including city, state and ZIP.

Global Investigative Journalism Network: Resources

FTC Charity Checklist

AFL-CIO: 2009 Executive Pay Watch
The CEO pay database is extremely helpful in research for executive stories .

Vanno: The Company Reputation Index
Captures gossip, news, opinion and personal insight about companies and their reputations, and turns it all into numerical scores and rankings.
Charts government stats and other data.

Similar to The Toolbox: Maps, reverse lookups, public records, etc. Browser Extension
A free browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari that exposes the role money plays in Congress. Displays on any web page detailed campaign contribution data for every Senator and Representative, including total amount received and breakdown by industry and by size of donation. Puts vital data where it's most relevant so you can discover the real impact of money on our political system. Oh, and it was built by a 16-year-old coder.

LegalLeaks: Toolkit for Journalists on Accessing Government Information
For journalists making requests in their own country or considering filing a request in another country. It is based on a comparative analysis of the access to information of the 40 countries of the Council of Europe region that have such laws.

USPS ZIP Code Lookup

The Art of Access Blog
Tips on public records searches.
A government data mashup that is an initiative of the Obama administration.

Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
From the World Security Institute, this site provides in-depth resources on global affairs.
An investigative reporting site from former LA Times columnist Robert Sheer.

LibGuides at Duke University
Research private companies.

FBI Cyber Scams
Tips on scams involving bogus e-mails, greeting cards, etc.

Los Angeles Times Data Desk
Databases galore, from tropical storm names, charities, entertainment, politics, etc.

An independent Web-based reporting aimed at "exposing securities fraud and corporate chicanery."

Influence Explorer
From the Sunlight Foundation,, and the Project on Government Oversight, this site tracks voting trends of politicians. Great first-stop for tracking conflicts of interest or investigating a politician.

Foundation Center
Tax forms and other documents about several charitable organizations.

From American University's Investigative Reporting Workshop, this site follows trends and issues in the banking industry.

National Attorney Generals Association
This site has links to state attorney general's offices. Most attorney general sites, such as New York's have information on nonprofit organizations that make more than $150,000 a year.

An independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Covers topics such as justice, business, environment/energy and health.

A database of congressional staff salaries and other valuable public records, such as the most comprehensive database of all privately financed trips taken by members of Congress and congressional staffers.

City of Chicago Data Dictionary
The site "serves as a single, comprehensive database catalog for the City of Chicago and City of Chicago sister agencies. It is a resource for anyone who is interested in understanding what data is held by City agencies and departments, how and if it may be accessed, and in what formats it may be accessed."

Poynter: Nate Silver on 8 Cool Things Journalists Should Know About Statistics
Filter and sort census information. Super tool.

IRE: Resources for Investigating Highway and Water Transportation Deaths Who is John Doe? Investigative Tools
From the Reporter's Desktop, this is a simple list of resources you can access to get personal information about almost anyone in the United States.

Coalition of Journalists for Open Government
A resource for journalists who want to stay current on open government developments or to learn more about access issues at the federal level.

Student Press Law Center: FOIA Letter Generator
Just fill in the blanks.

The Innocence Project
A searchable database of states offering projects to free wrongfully accused prisoners through DNA and other evidence. Run by the Cardozo School of Law in NYC.

Local State and Federal Employee Information Database
You can use this database to track salaries, bonuses, etc.

Terrorism Research Center
Resources and research including comprehensive listing of links to terrorism-related Web pages including profiles of individual terrorist groups compiled by the U.S. Navy's Dudley Knox Library.

University of Miami: Online News and Computer-Assisted Reporting Research Project

Syracuse University: Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC)

The Associated Press and Freedom of Information

Google Public Data Explorer
Makes large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As the charts and maps animate over time, the changes in the world become easier to understand.

Child Abduction Site
Several helpful research tools if you're covering this topic and a wealth of media contact information.
Search federal court, divorce court, marriage licenses, military records and more.

Criminal Searches Criminal History Check
Good quick-reference, but assumptions should NOT be made solely on the offense displayed on this web site. The data includes more than criminal records, such as civil filings and traffic and other minor offenses, so people listed may not be actual criminals.

The IRE Resource Center: Tipsheets from CAR Conference Speakers
This is an actual database of tipsheets that IRE members can download as PDF files directly from the Web site. You have to be an IRE member to access the database.

World Corruption Site
Site says it is run by "global non-governmental organization devoted to combating corruption. Its mission is to create change toward a world free of corruption."

Center for Public Integrity
Tips and resources on using public documents, including campaign finance research.
Comprehensive searches for public records. You must register to use the site.
Real property info. center.

The Smoking Gun
This is a good FOIA site that claims to find documents that can't be found elsewhere on the Web. Its material is gleaned from government documents, court files, etc.
"Interesting Federal Government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act."

The Art of Access
Charles Davis's blog that accompanies the book by the same name. Full of tips on how to use FOIAs.

Guides to Understanding Open Records
.PDFs from the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.
A fantastic site for researching campaign finance statistics. FOI
Includes campaign finance research and a clearinghouse of key FOIA sites.

IRE Archive of Hot Stories
Good to check every few days for ideas, news, etc.

U.S. Search Background Information

IBB Voice of America: Pronunciation Guide
An invaluable tool to broadcasters on deadline.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Uniform Crime Report and Supplementary Homicide Report
Data by state is available since 1960 and data by local reporting agency since 1985.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
FBI now gets authority to wiretap individuals, or under the secret FISA procedures, which is also a secret court proceeding.

IRE: Dam Resources
Resources for covering dam inspections and dam deterioration.
This site claims to be "the place to find, locate & track down anybody! We offer locate searches, DMV driver & vehicle searches, telephone record searches, financial and bank searches, criminal and property records. Some searches are free, others you must pay for.
A great site. Roots out the funding sources of the most notorious anti-consumer groups. It continually adds profiles on the first of every month.

Medicare Nursing Home Finder
Can be helpful in investigating nursing homes in your area as it includes information on recent inspections, number of beds, etc.

GAO's Congressional Investigations
Track investigations through the General Accounting Office.

Lobbyist Database, part of the Center for Reponsive Politics, has a database of registered lobbyists. Also tracks spending in particular sectors of lobbyists.

Special Interest Groups List, part of the Center for Reponsive Politics, has downloadable lists of special-interest groups.

Government Audits
State inspector general's offices that audit federal programs that the agency oversees.
A good site for FEC and PAC data.

Social Security Death Records

Securities & Exchange Commission

SNAP: Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

FTC Charity Checklist
Search database for public records by state and county. Also locate public records offices.

Property Tax Records by State

Find backgrounds of millions of people.

Construction Weblinks: Public Records
Dig up records on companies.

S9 Bios of Famous People

SNAP: Investigating Abuse by Priests
Tips for the media.

Investigative Resources on the Web (WebGater)
Links to motor vehicle departments, missing persons bureaus, vital records, medical examiner records.

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

FOIA Illinois
Blog and resources for filing FOIAs. Twitter handle is @foiaillinois.

FOI Advocate
The University of Missouri's newsletter on using the Freedom of Information Act.

Cemetery Records Online
Maintains records from 4,307 cemeteries both nationwide and abroad. The site regularly updates users on which cemeteries have been added to their database.


Sunlight Foundation: Public Markup
Opens legislative bills to online public review.

Sunlight Foundation: Earmark Watch
Resources for citizens to track congressional spending. You have to register for the site, but it helps you investigate earmarks - spending measures inserted by members of Congress into bills that direct taxpayer dollars to their pet projects. The site has more than 3,000 of them.
Ratings, reviews and salaries for more than 11,000 employers. It's information posted by anonymous employees, so be careful with the information you use. Fact-check everything. It can be helpful as a quick snapshot of a company you're backgrounding.

Industry Research Desk
Tools for researching specific companies, industries and manufacturing processes.

Center for Public Integrity: The Data Mine
An online series that will highlight inaccessible or poorly presented information from the federal government.

Sunlight Foundation: Open Congress
Sunlight and the Participatory Politics Foundation run this site, which tracks bills, votes, senators and representatives. It includes an RSS feed that registers your zip code to track all the actions by your elected officials and what people are saying about them.

Library of Congress: Ask a Librarian
Submit questions to a librarian. Includes a chat feature and links to various collections.

Vital Records Online
An extensive list of adoption resources.

Justice Department FOIA Guide
Good for anticipating the other side's arguments and interpretation of case history, especially when you are appealing a denial.

Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2002
A guide for working through the FOIA/open government process. It is published by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

IRE: FOIA Resources


iDig Answers
Great for generating FOI-related story ideas.

Sunshine in Government Initiative

The FOI Advocate


IRE's Campaign Finance Information Center
This site features a database of campaign finance story ideas and tips from reporters across the country.

Tips for Uncovering Sealed Cases

SecretNoMore: Publicly Accessible FBI Files

IRE's Extra Extra

The Scoop: Derek Willis: Database of Computer-Assisted Reporting Stories

World's 300 Largest Pension Funds

Wall Street Journal: Markets Data Center
A great quick-reference tool. Access to this does not require a subscription to the WSJ.
An independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Submit questions to a librarian. Includes a chat feature and links to various collections.

Sunlight Foundation
Political watchdog group that tracks lobbyists and fundraising.

Sunlight Foundation:
This political watchdog group's blog tracks parties thrown at the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions as well as fundraising activities by all lawmakers running.

How to Use the Federal FOI Act
From the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

IRE FOI Center

National FOI Coalition

APME: The People's Right to Know
A good FOIA guide.

Society of Professional Journalists: Freedom of Information Resources

University of Missouri Freedom of Information Center

ACLU Free Speech Resources

Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press: FOIA Letter Generator
Just fill in the blanks.

The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information

Coalition of Journalists for Open Government

National Security Archive: Freedom of Information Act Resources
From George Washington University.

American Library Association: Key Principles on Government Information

U.S. Department of Justice Freedom of Information Act Information

FBI's FOIA Website

Society of Environmental Journalists FOI Resources

Federal Citizens' Information Center: Privacy Resources

University of Texas: Woodward and Bernstein Watergate Papers

Depth Reporting

The Scoop Blog
CAR and investigative reporting. Money and Politics
Database makes connections between legislative votes and campaign donations.

Warning: There may ethical concerns with content produced on this site! This community funded journalism site is a nonprofit project of the Center for Media Change. The public can commission journalists to do investigations on important and perhaps overlooked stories. All donations are tax deductible and if a news organization buys exclusive rights to the content, your donation will be reimbursed.

Institute for Analytic Journalism
Blog, podcast, tools, data analysis tools, graphics and more. Resources are managed by a team of working journalists and academics throughout the country.
Blog, tips and resources from web developer and CAR expert from the St. Petersburg Times.

Center on Executive Compensation
The center is dedicated to developing and promoting principled pay and governance practices and advocating compensation policies that serve the best interests of shareholders and other corporate stakeholders. This site might be helpful in sourcing and finding statistics for stories about overpaid CEOs.

"Promoting open government, accountability and citizen participation since 1983." Government records and watchdog site.

Digital Vaults
A curated view of 1,200 of the most impressive holdings in the National Archives.

FIRE: Guide to Free Speech on Campus
Book/ebook from the Foundation of Individual Rights on Campus.

FOIA Online
Federal government site that has resources on filing FOIAs.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

National Consumers League

National Consumer Law Center


Scam Busters

Ripoff Report

Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Watchdog

National Council on Consumer Interests

Consumer Affairs

HSBC Watchdogs

Consumer Search Product Reviews

Review Finder

National Fraud Information Center

FDA Food and Drug Import Refusals


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