After a law changing the rules for early voting, we wanted to see which voters were affected the most by the changes. We used voter data to calculate the changes in the distance between their closest voting location in 2014 vs. 2018 and found that rural voters were disproportionately impacted by the changes, which were small. We then teamed with ProPublica to map the data.
- Early voting changes hit NC rural voters hardest, analysis shows. But will it matter in 2018?
- Full methodology: 2018 Early voting analysis
- How North Carolina’s Early Voting Changes Affect Voters
Seven Days (Vermont)
I built the Vermont Nonprofit Navigator to collect and present 990 data on Vermont’s nonprofits. It started out as an internal tool, but as we were reporting out a series of stories using the data we’d discovered, we realized that making that data public would allow other people to dig in and learn about Vermont’s nonprofit economy, too.
Here’s the series of stories we reported using the database.
Independent data journalist
- Follow the Message, collecting and analyzing campaign literature.
- The nastiest Colorado campaign attacks filling your mailbox — and the truth behind them
NorthJersey.com / The Record
Once a week, we ran a short story summing up some topical or quirky bit of data analysis, along with some graphics using a free online service (operative word being free). It turned out to be a great way to use data on a regular basis in a shrinking newsroom where there aren’t always reporters available to turn data analysis into more in-depth stories.
Disha Raychaudhuri and Blake Nelson
NJ Advance Media
- The Force Report is the most comprehensive statewide database of police use of force in the US, made from documents acquired through 506 FOI requests.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
To provide parents with access to information on the physical state of more than 200 public schools, the Philadelphia Inquirer created School Checkup, a web tool that blends six databases of more than 250,000 room-by-room environmental records. School Checkup breaks out four building conditions known to impact a child’s health: rampant mold, deteriorated asbestos, flaking and peeling lead paint, and drinking water containing high levels of lead. The user-friendly tool enables parents, for the first time, to look up conditions at their child’s school, drilling down to the classroom level. It is an essential part of the paper’s “Toxic City: Sick Schools” investigation. At one school, parents, teachers and about 75 students who learned of problems with their building from School Checkup became so concerned that they held classes outdoors in a “Toxic Teach Out,” to bring attention to their unhealthy conditions.
The Palm Beach Post
We found that Florida’s clemency system was wildly arbitrary, varying by several orders of magnitude by each governor and, under the then-current governor, showing significantly flawed racial outcomes and political bias. None of this data had previously been reported, nor was it in a major lawsuit. We blended a woefully incomplete little PDF with about six sets of voter data, two prison data sets and about 500,000 scrapes to find out that out.
- Florida felon voting rights: Who got theirs back under Scott?
- Felon voting: How The Post found the key Gov. Rick Scott refused to provide
My talented colleague William Wolfe-Wylie and I scraped thousands of tickets to hockey/baseball games and popular concerts for months to reveal exactly how scalpers operated in our city (Toronto, Canada). Through Python/SQL data collection and analysis, we then showed outraged fans how websites like Ticketmaster were controlling stocks and prices to double dip into profits. High impact investigation that can be reproduced in any city with sports fan! Also a great opportunity to discuss the ethics and value of stealth web scraping.
- Blue Jays earn cut from every ticket scalped on StubHub
- Fans shut out: Only 96 seats available for general public for Leafs first home playoff game
- New Ontario government puts brakes on anti-scalping law
- ‘I’m getting ripped off’: A look inside Ticketmaster’s price-hiking bag of tricks
- How we did it (slides)
Capital Public Radio
Big Local News (Stanford University)
This story comes from a Stanford University class affiliated with the Big Local News project. We collected, processed and analyzed data on the cost of wildfires across California and the U.S. to produce a report about the role that wildland development plays in rising wildfire costs in California. We have produced two versions of a story recipe: one featuring Python code (github link) and one using Workbench (workbenchdata link), a new data analysis tool produced by collaborators at Columbia University that is intended to help anyone analyze data for stories, even those without coding experience.
This yearlong investigation into safety in Texas day cares was built with cookies so that a reader could enter at any story and not be lost, with a paragraph of key findings visible on the reader’s entry point and hidden thereafter. The aim was to make Unwatched accessible, knowing that not every reader would start at the beginning.
These projects all combine data with creative web development to help readers learn more about Texas. For each one, we obtained public data and parsed it to make sure we understood the story it was telling. Then, we used web development tools to build a narrative around the data — making easy points of entry for readers both in and out of Texas. Readers in the state can opt to let some of the pages geolocate them or enter an address for more detailed information.
Stories and graphics directly related to our goal this year of personalizing content for Texans, no matter where they live:
- 8/15: Texas school districts receive first official A-F grades. Look up how your district did here.
- 10/2: Here’s what Texas voters should know for the 2018 midterms (Ballot lookup tool with maps, voter guide. Updated for each step of the election process.)
- 10/5: How to know if you’re spending too much on housing in Texas
- 11/6: See the results of the Texas 2018 midterm election here. Find results for where you live
- 11/7: Look up Texas midterm turnout in your county against historic numbers
Also: Since June of 2018 we’ve been continuously tracking how many migrant children are being housed in shelters in Texas. (Although we have participated in AP’s aggregation of this data, we have produced this independently of that effort.)
Lenfest Local Lab