Reporting from NICAR: Protecting data in the Trump era

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Donald Trump’s presidency has many journalists worried about press freedom and access to government information. So a NICAR panel about the precautions that journalists can take to protect data an ensure that the public still has access to it was an important and relevant discussion.

The panel was lead by non-journalists who deal with data within their fields. Yogin Kothari from the Union of Concerned Scientists, Nancy Watzman from the Internet Archive and Margaret Janz from the University of Pennsylvania were on the panel, which was moderated by David Herzog, the computer-assisted reporting professor from the University of Missouri.

They discussed that while other presidencies didn’t have a great record of transparency and press freedom, the Trump presidency seems to be different and more of a problem.

“They don’t appear to be interested in being transparent and making government data accessible,” Kothari said.

Watzman, who also works with the wayback machine, explained that while data might be harder to find, the wayback machine also has access to large set of databases. ‘

Janz said that while access to data will become limited, she is also worried about the lack of funding for new research and maintaining government data.

While this panel did leave me feeling worried about access to data, I did learn new ways to find databases and how people outside of journalism are also fighting for public access to government information.

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