IRE News : November 2012

Updated SBA 7a data available in data library

Which businesses in your community have loans backed by the Small Business Administration? Find out using NICAR's recently updated SBA 7(a) loan data, which includes loans from 1953 through September, 2012.

The 7(a) program is the SBA's most common loan program. It provides loans to small business owners who can't obtain financing through traditional channels. The program operates through private-sector lenders who provide loans that are, in turn, guaranteed by the SBA. The SBA 7(a) program itself has no funds for direct lending or grants.

The data contain information on ...

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Behind the Story: Investigating lost war records

In 2011, reporter Peter Sleeth was working on a historical account of a battle he had witnessed during his time as an embedded reporter in Iraq.  His work on the piece stalled while researching Sgt. Jacob Butler, a soldier who had died in battle at As Samawah, Iraq in 2003.  No one in the Army had records of his death.  The problem, U.S. Army historians told him, was that the Army was missing huge swaths of data from two wars.  The missing data, Sleeth found, was a result of poor communication between the U.S. Central Command in Iraq ...

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2012 IRE Awards now open for submissions


It’s that time of year again – time to consider entering your best work into the IRE Awards. Among the most prestigious in journalism, the IRE Awards recognize outstanding investigative reporting across all media. Eligible entries must have been published or aired between January 1 and December 31, 2012. The deadline for submissions is January 11, 2013. We are pleased to announce that you can now enter your work online.

For details on how to enter, go here. To view past winners, go here.

Join a live discussion about Econocheck

NICAR adviser David Herzog will be on hand Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m Eastern (11 a.m. Pacific) for a live Q&A about EconoCheck on the Journalism AcceleratorEconoCheck, an IRE-Sunlight Foundation resource launched during the 2012 campaign, helps reporters quickly find and understand data about key indicators. Drop by to discuss how journalists can continue to tap into it for post-election economic reporting and how we might improve it.

What do you think about the way EconoCheck presents tools and information? Please join us to share your experience and ask anything you want to know.

Behind the Story: An information gap in child abuse cases

There were signs of problems before 15-year-old Jeanette Maples died of starvation and abuse in Oregon in December 2009.  Although child services had been involved in the case, residents were shocked to find that Maples death had not been prevented.  Oregonian reporter Michelle Cole wanted to know what, if anything, could have been done to change the circumstances.  Through her investigation of the case, she uncovered problems with child welfare services that extend outside of Oregon and into national child welfare regulations.  The deficient child abuse monitoring system continues to affect cases across the United States.  

In Maples case, child ...

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Knight-Mozilla OpenNews announces 2013 fellows

Knight-Mozilla OpenNews yesterday announced its 2013 class of fellows, who will work as developers and technologists embedded in newsrooms around the world. Fellows spend a year writing code along with reporters, designers and newsroom developers to create new tools for journalism. Fellows for 2013 and their placements include:

  • Brian Abelson, The New York Times
  • Manuel Aristarán, La Nacion
  • Annabel Church, Zeit Online
  • Stijn Debrouwere, The Guardian
  • Friedrich Lindenberg, Spiegel Online
  • Sonya Song, Boston Globe
  • Mike Tigas, ProPublica
  • Noah Veltman, BBC

Learn more about the fellows from Knight-Mozilla OpenNews.

Behind The Story: Comparing databases on bullying

Students head to lunch at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Council Bluffs. The school district reported 58 alleged incidents to the state in five years, arguably a low rate for an urban district of 9,000 students. David Purdy/The Register

In reporting, timing is everything.  For Des Moines Register reporter Kyle Munson, the topic of bullying in Iowa schools was reaching a climax as his work was being finalized.  During the release of his series “Bullying in Iowa,” Iowa had faced two deaths related to bullying incidents, the most recent involving a northwest Iowa teen who committed suicide after ...

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HMDA data updated in the Database Library

The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data have just been updated in the NICAR Database Library -- and we'll help you turn it into a story.


This Act requires all banks, savings and loans, savings banks and credit unions with assets of more than $33 million and offices in metropolitan areas to report mortgage applications. Each loan record contains demographic information about loan applicants, including race, gender and income; the purpose of the loan (i.e. home purchase or improvement); whether the buyer intends to live in the home; the type of loan (i.e. conventional ...
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Adding depth to coverage of election results

For help in the scramble to provide instant results and analysis -- all while sorting through close decisions on the local and federal level --  check out these resources for adding depth to your election night coverage, the day after stories and long range post-election stories. Also, check out our look at data-driven stories leading up to election day.

What's being done

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Data science, meet campaign finance

If you ever get the urge to feel a chill run down your spine, particularly if you're interested in political journalism, give Sasha Issenberg's new book The Victory Lab a good, close read.

Here's the headline: When it comes to using data to understand politics, journalists are playing checkers while political consultants are playing chess. Just listen to the debate that has surfaced in recent weeks around The New York Times' polling specialist, Nate Silver. The venerable Fourth Estate, whose job it is to hold the political system accountable, often lacks the skills to understand, let alone ...

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