DocumentCloud’s Jeremy Ashkenas collaborated on this post.
It has been less than a year since DocumentCloud began adding users to our beta. Late Monday morning, a user uploaded our millionth page of primary source documents.
The thousands of documents in our catalog have arrived in small batches: five pages here, twenty there. The vast majority of the 65,000 documents that those million pages comprise remain private, but we’re fast closing in on 10,000 public documents in our catalog.
Journalists are using DocumentCloud to publish all sorts of documents, including these:
- Last week, the Center for Public Integrity launched a series of articles on hidden hazards at oil refineries in the United States. Readers of Regulatory Flaws, Repeated Violations Put Oil Refinery Workers at Risk can review a dozen citations and court filings that the Center’s journalists used in the reporting.
- Sunday, the New York Times published the first installment of an investigation into lax regulation of natural-gas drilling across the U.S., accompanied by a large cache of EPA and industry documents.
- The Seattle Times reported last week on evidence of financial abuse in Seattle public schools, based on documents released by state auditors. The documents detail over-billing, intimidation, and ethics violations that add up to $1.8 million in potentially fraudulent expenses.
- Statesman Journal reporter Tracy Loew used DocumentCloud to organize and annotate hundreds of documents that she accumulated in the course of her 16-month investigation of questionable spending in Willamette, Oregon’s regional school district, WESD. Her reporting for WESD’s Web of Deals turned up a decade’s worth of red flags that had been raised — and ignored — in the agency’s financial management, adding up to millions of misspent dollars. Statesman Journal used DocumentCloud to publish 300 contracts, court filings, and correspondence.
Documents in our catalog reach back into the past, as well. In 1970 Ruben Salazar was killed by police while covering an anti-war protest in east Los Angeles. A story rife with controversy, questions, and suspicions, his death became a rallying point in the Mexican American civil rights movement. Forty years later — after refusing a public records request for documents that might shed some light on the circumstances of his death — the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department agreed to turn the files over to the Office of Independent Review.
While Los Angeles Times reporters waited for the report, they assembled their own folio of early clippings on Ruben Salazar. Readers can review FBI files obtained by the Times in 1999 and LAPD records on the department’s repeated clashes with the journalist as well as a draft of the report prepared by the Office of Independent Review.
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You can browse recently published documents by searching for “filter: published” or read up on other searches you might want to run. Here’s hoping that the next year brings millions more pages, and more great document-driven reporting.