The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting maintains a library of federal databases, employs journalism students, and trains journalists in the practical skills of getting and analyzing electronic information.

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Learn how to explore data with Python's Jupyter Notebook

Editor's Note: This article first ran on the California Civic Data Coalition's website on Oct. 8. Ben spoke at our San Diego Data Watchdog Workshop, a program funded by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

By Ben Welsh

Last weekend, I traveled to the campus of San Diego State University to join a journalism workshop put on by Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Dozens of students and journalists gathered from across Southern California — and even as far as Mexicali, Mexico — to learn advanced online research techniques, receive Microsoft Excel instruction and develop other skills during two days of ...

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Track the economic impact of Hurricane Matthew

View of Hurricane Katrina destruction in the city of New Orleans. (Photo by NOAA / Creative Commons

In the wake of any natural disaster, there’s a seemingly endless number of public service and accountability stories to chase. You want to know when the power is going to come back on. How many people have been displaced, injured and (in the worst storms) killed. Did officials take the right precautions?

We often focus on the toll these disasters take on individuals, but there’s another important frame to consider – an economic one. Businesses are damaged, some never to open again. Workers ...

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Report on the student debt crisis with our new simplified database

Student debt is quickly becoming a national crisis. But reporting on student loans and college finances has always been thorny, especially when dealing with complicated bureaucracies and patchwork data.

Earlier this year, for the first time ever, the Obama Administration released a comprehensive intersection of student population, college performance and “outcome” data, measuring with precise detail who gets into what school and what they do after graduation. But the Department of Education’s raw “College Scorecard” is a labyrinth of information covering some 7,800 campuses all over the country, broken down by almost 2,000 different variables – everything from ...

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Tracking crime in your community

FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) is one of the best tools for tracking crime trends in communities nationwide; FBI UCR data for 2014 is now available from the NICAR data library.

Law enforcement agencies around the country voluntarily submit reports to the FBI on what are known as "index" crimes: Murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor-vehicle theft and arson. These crimes are meant to serve as an index for gauging fluctuations in both the overall volume and rate of crime. The data include the number of crimes by agency and by month. Geographic information include ...

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