The Sun-Times published the names, salaries and positions of 145,000 Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago employees on their website this weekend. The names and salaries are online in the form of a simple searchable database. The reporter published a couple articles with analysis of the massive database. One article talked about the top ten earners and another took a look at the Chicago police commissioner, who is the top earner.
A classmate of mine told me about it. Why did they just publish it all, she asked. Most of these people are just honest employees. She looked up the name of her friend who works for the government and found out how much he makes, which is what the majority of folks will do with it.
I think could be an interesting open-source approach to journalism – make a FOIA and release all the data to the public (as long as there are no privacy implications, which there might be in this case). But the Sun-Times didn’t really release the source to their product. You have limited access.
I want a link to download a csv file. I want to plug it into Many Eyes. I want to run my own reports on it.
I don’t know if they published the information with the intention that others should use it to find stories. But that would be cool.