We work with data a lot at ProPublica. We request it. We create it. We analyze it. We use it to tell stories. We design with it. We teach with it. We share it. And, since 2014, we’ve been selling it online in the ProPublica Data Store.
Today, we’re relaunching the Data Store, with a complete redesign and new features that make it easier to find the data you’re looking for. As always, the store features free public data that we’ve used in our reporting as well as data sets that we’ve spent significant time and effort on, for which we charge a fee. It also has APIs that let you pull data into your own website and mobile tools.
When we launched the store, it was already true that newsrooms worked with a lot of data. But over the past nearly three years, data journalism has grown in prominence and sophistication in newsrooms across the country. At conferences and over coffee, our colleagues in other newsrooms have asked us two questions about the Data Store.
First, they ask, “Does it work?”
For us, the answer has been “yes.” It’s helped us share the data behind our stories with the public in a more consistent and understandable way. It’s much easier to find our data sets than it was before the Data Store. Unsurprisingly, making the data easier to use helped more people find and use it: free data sets have been downloaded from the site more than 4,500 times since we launched. It’s helped us earn new, meaningful revenue to support our work.
The second question newsrooms ask is “how can we sell our data?”
Starting today, we have an answer to that. We’re inviting other newsrooms to sell the data behind their reporting in the ProPublica Data Store. ProPublica will manage sales, marketing, and fulfillment of any newsroom’s unique data sets that have been cleaned, analyzed, documented and used in published reporting. (We’ll take a percentage of the sales revenue, but our partners keep most of it.)
We’ve already signed up two partners: The New York Daily News and the NICAR Data Library. The Daily News has been working with us since May, when we partnered on a data-driven story about nuisance abatement actions in New York. Starting today, we’re handling sales of NICAR data sets for people who aren’t members of Investigative Reporters and Editors, starting with five of their most popular products.
If your newsroom has data that you think would be a good fit, let us know about it. We’d love to hear from you.
ProPublica will also offer Data Store customers more custom data services through the NICAR data library. Custom data runs, which were sometimes available upon request for commercial customers, will now be an easier, faster, and more widely available part of the process.
We started the Data Store as a skunkworks project, with borrowed developer time and software put together on the quick. We didn’t know how or even if it would work. The past two years have given us insight on how customers — journalists, researchers and even commercial research firms — can put our data to good use past its life in our stories. We’ve put what we’ve learned into our store’s relaunch.
Let us know how you like the changes by email or in the comments below.