FedWorld: Just in time for the midterm (assignment)

By NINA GREEN

In our CNJ 515 class, we have  our midterm assignment coming up that involves the use of databases for news stories. Although all of the students in class had interesting and timely ideas about what they wanted to research, many were stopped short after finding that very few databases existed for their topic.

I myself picked a topic I thought was sure to have plenty of information — child obesity. Hasn’t this been a growing issue in the United States in the past 10 years? There should be plenty of data available for me to analyze. And there is … I just don’t know where to begin to find it. Doing a basic web search on child obesity gives me a lot of information, but not the hard data I’m looking for.

Thankfully, I have found FedWorld.gov. This site is actually developed and maintained by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Set up in 1992 (yes, that early), it is the self-proclaimed “gateway to government information.”

So on to the actual technical aspect of the site – does it do what it says it will? When I typed “child obesity” into the search terms box, the search delivered 91 articles. I was ecstatic. “Here we go,” I thought. “This midterm assignment will be a breeze.”

Not so quick. It wasn’t until I tried to click on one of the articles that I realized they were not free. Very “not free.” As in $25 t0 $60 “not free.”

So the website was a bust. Sorry if I got your hopes up with the title, because unless you’re willing to shell out major bucks, you won’t be getting your midterm assignment database from this site.

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