It looks like the folks over at Oregon Capitol News published all the salaries of every Portland Public School employee under this breathless heading:
Ever wondered how much Portland Public School employees make? Oregon Capitol News now provides a searchable database of employee salaries from Portland Public Schools.
I admire their restraint in not using any exclamation points.
So now, you can find out exactly how much teachers make, and, depending on your political/social leanings, you can say either, "Did you see that Ms Jones makes X a year? Just another example of wasteful government spending," or, "Did you see that Ms Jones makes X a year? Teachers don't get paid anything. Why would anybody go into a profession where you are subjected to long working hours, endless criticism, armchair quarterbacking, and a crappy salary?"
However, one small problem. The folks at Oregon Capitol News got it wrong. They published inaccurate data. And to make matters worse, they don't appear to admit it, or to take any responsibility.
This is an amateur's mistake, and it's one that calls the overall accuracy of what they are attempting to do into question. Anybody working with datasets of any size knows that you need to vet the data you are given for accuracy, reliability, and any one of countless abnormalities that arise from the reality that data takes work to keep in a usable form. Posting this data without any context (like the pay scale? Like job descriptions?) is sloppy. Posting it with inaccuracies, and then denying any accountability for the accuracy of what you publish compounds the problem, and reduces or eliminates the usefulness of the data you release.
And, as there is more of a push toward big data journalism, these types of sloppy mistakes need to be eliminated.
Also of interest: the Oregonian's "reporting" on this story comes complete with a picture with the following caption:
Lincoln High fans are passionate about their Cardinals. But could they pull strings to make a teacher and former winning coach one of the highest paid employees in the Portland district?
The answer to this rhetorical question is, of course, no. That's the point of the article. That's the mistake they are actually reporting on. But, by including incorrect information as a question, they create the impression that maybe, just maybe, those nefarious schools are pulling strings to get Special Advantages (™). I don't know whether this falls under the category of outright dishonesty or a feeble attempt to make a story more sensational by stirring up the fears of a system gone awry. In any case this type of misinformed slop is also not really surprising, because it's published by an education writer in the Oregonian.