May 13, 2012

The Walker Calendar Files: How we did the analysis

Through the state’s open records law, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism received Gov. Scott Walker’s official schedule as Google calendars that had been printed out, redacted and scanned back in as PDFs. Center reporters then created a database of all 4,414 entries in the calendars. Chris Hubbuch, Jourdan Vian and Katherine Halloran at the La Crosse Tribune and University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism students Andrea Choi, Mario Koran and Jonathan Wilk also contributed reporting and data entry.

Reporters categorized entries as down time (listed as such in the calendar); redacted (when all details were blacked out); meetings with legislators; meetings with company officials or CEOs; “other work” (a general category including activities like appointment interviews and staff meetings), and public relations activities (a somewhat subjective category). Entries lacking details were labeled “unknown.”

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie assured the Center that the calendars describe the governor’s activities fairly accurately. Reporters cleaned the messy data, but some errors are likely for a data set this size. It’s also not clear what Walker did in the hours that aren’t scheduled in the calendar. So the Center’s analysis shows how many hours Walker scheduled, not how many hours he actually worked.

Readers can explore the calendar entries and categories at wisconsinwatch.org/walkercalendars. The analysis also links to the original PDFs. Reader feedback is welcome: info@wisconsinwatch.org.