CAR Conference Blog : February 2013

The data-driven story from launch to presentation

This three-part series  moderated by Brant Houston of the University of Illinois walks through a data-driven story, from interviewing the data to proving the story to your editor to telling it to your audience.

Using a database (available from the NICAR data library) of government-backed loans from the Small Business Administration, a group of reporters and editors around the country worked together remotely in the days leading up to NICAR. In addition to some insights and promising questions about the data itself, they pulled together lessons and documented their process for reporting out a data-driven story.

Part 1: The approach ...

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Get acquainted with the new look of Fusion Tables

Google Fusion tables has a new look.

You can learn how to use it with Google Fusion Tables tutorials, and get a grip on how to import map data, and style, filter and share your creation with the world.

Learn step-by-step how to formulate “lots of points” maps, heat maps and intensity maps.

Some other cool tools: Fusion Tables Layer wizard to add custom layers, and shpescape to dump shapefile (like what you use in ArcGIS) into a Fusion table.

Quick tips on presenting data-driven stories

Cheryl Phillips of The Seattle Times and Anthony DeBarros of Gannett Digital presented on how to fit your data to the appropriate presentation style. Just like when you’re shopping for clothes, you should ask a lot of questions before you buy (or in this case, before you spend resources designing anything).

What is the story in the data? What kind of data is it? Aggregated or individual records, for example. How much data do you have?  How much time do you have? Resources? How granular do you want to get? Is there a geographic component?

Don’t stress over ...

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Advanced social media sleuthing

Geolocation tools help you search for social media activity buzzing in your beat, on your block and even in your building. The following tools help you search by geolocation information embedded in tweets, Facebook updates, youtube videos and more.

“Geolocation is one of the most exciting things for journalists out in the field,” presenter Doug Haddix said.

Some sweet tools:

  • lets you see the exact location of updates and tweets – great for scaring your friends at cocktail parties.
  • Mappeo is a YouTube geo-search, which allows you to see videos posted in a certain area. Search “Sandy near New ...
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Getting started with Tableau Public

Photos by Travis Hartman

I walked into the Tableau Public session with absolutely no experience -- and within about 10 minutes the instructor had us open up some data, sort through a few of the elements, and create a visualization.  Its immediate ease of use is clear. To produce quick, coherent interactive charts seemed pretty easy.  The further we went along though; it became apparent that there was some serious horsepower under the hood.  And with great power comes responsibility.  More on this later.

Our instructor, Mike Klaczynski, started with the proper way to format data for Tableau, and in the ...

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Waste investigations for any community

Start small, follow audit trails, and follow up. This session’s panelists offer advice, and underlying it all are those precepts, applicable to both your data skills and your investigative inquiry. The panel included Erin Jordan of The Gazette/KCRG-Cedar Rapids, Josh Sweigart of the Dayton Daily News (Cox Media Group), and Tim Eberly of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Start small

Tim Eberly started his multi-part series on daycare in Georgia after a two-year-old girl was found dead in a van, where she had been left on a hot day. Eberly describes himself as an investigative reporter who has come ...

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FOIA Machine offers web platform for managing open record requests

FOIA Machine is a new open-source web platform to manage your open records requests. It’s aimed to help you get what you want from your request, avoid being ignored and appeal when you are denied.

"It’s aimed to help you get what you want from your request, avoid being ignored and appeal when you are denied", says Djordje Padejski, investigative journalist and founding director of the FOIA Machine.

“What we’re hoping to solve is this problem,” Coulter Jones of California Watch said, showing the room a picture of binders full of FOIA requests at the NICAR Database ...

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Making the best use of the conference

IRE executive director Mark Horvit and training directors Jaimi Dowdell and Megan Luther offered advice this morning for how to make the best use of the conference. For first-time attendees, here are a few basic things to keep in mind:

There are three types of sessions: panels, demos and hands-on rooms.

Panels follow a fairly traditional conference format. A speaker or a group of speakers discusses a topic and perhaps field some questions. This morning's panels include "Information design and crossing the digital divide," "Getting Started: Digging deep with data journalism", and "Exploratory Data Analysis". There are three panel ...

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Wednesday wrap-up: Breaking local stories with economic data

Wednesday was a busy day preparing for the start of sessions on Thursday, but one panel was already under way -- “Breaking Local Stories with Economic Data,” hosted by the (Sponsored by Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism).

Paul Overberg of USA Today and Thomas Dall and Jeannine Aversa of the Bureau of Economic Analysis shared tips on using data to uncover local economic trends that set your reporting apart.

The release of the five-year Economic Census provides a timely opportunity to track changes between 2007 and 2012.

Here’s a quick snapshot from the Reynolds Center post of ...

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Welcome to the 2013 CAR Conference in Louisville

For the latest up-to-date information about panels, speakers and special events at the conference, please visit our conference website.

Hotel Information
The conference is taking place at the Hyatt Regency Louisville, 311 South 4th Street, Louisville, KY 40202.

Registration opens Wednesday at 3 p.m. and will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday on the 2nd floor of the hotel.

It looks like the weather is going to be a chilly in Louisville, don’t forget your coat.  See the 10-day forecast thanks to

Wireless Internet during the conference
Stop by the registration desk to receive ...

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