Better Format-Busting Through Public Records

Arizona State’s Reynolds Center for Business Journalism has put its spotlight on the Santa Fe Reporter‘s AltWeekly Award winning project, “Where’s the Money,” which attempts to uncover the wealthiest individuals in Santa Fe, N.M.

Dispelling any notion that winning the Innovation / Format Buster category can be pulled off with silly gimmicks, the article points out that this exposé was the product of several months of painstaking research. Said SFR reporter Corey Pein:

I started tracking down the richest people in town the day I started at the Santa Fe Reporter — about 10 months before that story was published . . . If you could see my desk, you’d weep over the messes of paper I create for those feature-length stories.

Pein combed publicly available data in order to compile the piece — ranging from divorce and property records to less obvious targets such as private aircraft registrations — and used Socrata‘s widgets to display the information in an easily accessible format on SFR‘s website.

In one of Pein’s more depressing revelations, he explains, “Not counting slavery, this is a time of unprecedented wealth inequality. Even at Santa Fe’s vaunted ‘living wage,’ a person would have to save every penny for 125 years to even put the traditional 20 percent down payment on financier Jeffrey Epstein’s Santa Fe ranch.”

So start saving those pennies. And start poking around your local public records.

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