USA Today published its annual database of college basketball coach salaries today.
It’s a truly great resource. It shows what all Division I coaches earn from their schools, other sources and how much their bonuses are worth. It’s sortable by conference, by salary, by name. It’s got everything you’d want.
Well … not quite.
In fact, it’s missing something really important.
Where is the link to the data itself? Why isn’t there a link to a spreadsheet, or CSV file, with all this data that users could download?
I teach data journalism and data visualization in three different classes. This kind of data file would be a dream come true for my sports writing students, and probably a lot in my online journalism and data journalism classes. They could learn their way around Excel, data sorting and making fun visualizations out of a robust data set.
But they can’t.
Because USA Today didn’t share the data in a raw format. The only way to access it is through their own site.
I get it, I think. This is proprietary work. The USA Today journalists put a ton of work into creating this database, and it is excellent work. But a huge part of the data journalism movement is rooted in the open-source mindset. Data journalism is about showing your work, and providing the information for others to check your math and do their own work. It also gives students interested in sports journalism and data journalism the chance to learn and practice their skills.
Except for corporate greed and branding purposes, there’s no legit case I can make for USA Today not publishing the coach salary database as a downloadable file. Share the data, USA Today!