Learn how City Bureau’s City Scrapers project collects public meeting information into one, searchable, easy-to-use website, in a free webinar on Feb. 7 at 1p CT—RSVP today.

By Darryl Holliday

Local government bodies hold thousands of public meetings every day across the country—but the vast majority receive no media coverage and produce minimal records, and they’re often spread across dozens of websites, rarely in useful data formats.

That’s why, in January, City Bureau’s News Lab unveiled Documenters.org, a new accountability web app built on a series of web scrapers that standardize and share information on public meetings, including locations, dates, times and official records. Our City Scrapers toolkit was built in and for Chicago—and has since spread to Detroit and Pittsburgh—but the problem we’re addressing exists in innumerable cities and towns in the U.S. and abroad.

Local government bodies hold thousands of public meetings every day across the country-but the vast majority receive no…

This webinar will answer questions to get you started creating a City Scrapers system for accountability at the local level:

What lessons did City Bureau’s News Lab learn through convening a volunteer community of civic coders?

How does the City Scrapers project interact with Documenters.org?

Can the City Scrapers code be replicated on budget?

How can the project be adapted for rural/urban/suburban settings?

Can my city be added to Documenters.org?

Public meetings are important spaces for democracy where any resident can participate in civic life and hold public officials accountable. But how does the public know when meetings are happening? It isn’t easy!

Since launching Documenters.org, we’ve received calls, emails and tweets from journalists, organizers and developers from across the country asking how our work can be reproduced. On February 7, we’ll help you keep tabs on your local elected officials, and create a new transparency tool for your community. If you can’t make it, we’ll post a recording of the video for future viewing.

This webinar will be focused specifically on our open-source City Scrapers code but we will host webinar focused specifically on creating a Documenters program in your area in the future. Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you’re notified.

Follow along with the #CityScrapers hashtag on Twitter. Watch our video to learn more about Documenters.org and our City Scrapers code:


Support City Bureau’s work in reimagining local news and civic participation becoming a City Bureau Press Club member today.

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