The News Journal now has a PANDA, a “newsroom data appliance” that will help fuel our reporting and hopefully make lives easier.
Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked. At the NICAR conference last February, I attended a presentation by the developers and knew right away that our newsroom would benefit from a PANDA. It took us a little while to track down a local server we could use, but we ended up re-purposing an old advertising server.
If you’ve never heard of PANDA before, it’s essentially a data “library” for the newsroom. Reporters can load data - or “feed the panda” - and it indexes it and makes it searchable. Already, we have loaded the registered voters database, state credit card payments and a few campaign finance tables. So, now all we have to do is type in a name and PANDA will tell us which databases that person is in. A search for Gov. Jack Markell’s last name shows entries in the registered voters database, the credit card data and the campaign finance reports for U.S. Senator Tom Carper. Once we get more data uploaded, we could ostensibly do a relatively thorough background check on sources just by searching for them with PANDA.
In a nutshell, this is going to greatly enhance our newsroom’s ability to capitalize on all the data we collect. Who wouldn’t be excited for that?