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Postcards and laundromat visits: The Texas Tribune audience team experiments with IRL distribution
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Jan. 7, 2014, 2:02 p.m.

Data from the U.S. Treasury is available to the public but hard to access and harder to understand. Lucky for us journalists, csv soundsystem (reference), a hacker-journalist collective from NYC, built Treasury.IO, which downloads government files every day, scrapes them, parses the data, and creates usable databases. Today, Source has a look at how the program works and what you can do with it.

Treasury.IO has opened the door for various visualizations and analyses:

— Time used the data to power a tracker of daily government cash holdings during the shutdown and debt ceiling crisis.

— Reuters used Treasury.IO to analyze federal payroll data for a story on the effect of the shutdown on federal employees’ wallets.

— Al Jazeera America tapped Sunlight Foundation’s Capitol Words API and Treasury.IO to make a chart which matches up mentions of the “debt ceiling” in Congress with shifts in the debt ceiling to show the issue’s politicization over time.

— On our sample queries page, we provide information on how to write the queries to produce these and other analyses.

Still seem like a lot of work? No problem. These news nerds also built a Twitter bot that analyzes and tweets bite-sized bits of information about government spending.

This works by submitting specific queries to our API and formatting the results as text (see the code here). You can follow @TreasuryIO on Twitter to get daily mini-analyses, such as this:

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