Tags : CAR

Nurses with criminal records allowed to keep working in Minn.

Our data-driven investigation, “When Nurses Fail,” found that hundreds of nurses with records of unsafe practice, patient harm, criminal charges or convictions continue to practice in Minnesota. A state monitoring program for drug-addicted health professionals allowed nurses to continue despite abusing drugs or alcohol, stealing from their patients and failing numerous drug tests.

Nurses with histories of drug use, crime or neglect were able to obtain licenses and find jobs because of flaws in the state background check system. Patients were unaware that their nurses had troubled backgrounds. One parent inadvertently hired a nurse with a history of making crystal ...

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Behind the Story: How USA TODAY pieced together a confidential FBI database to count fugitives who go free

Brad Heath

Lamont Pride was a wanted man the day he fatally shot a New York City police officer during a 2011 robbery. Officials had already passed up opportunities to lock up Pride, who was wanted in connection with a North Carolina shooting. And when the fugitive appeared in a Brooklyn court on a drug charge, a judge aware of the warrant also decided to let him go. A few weeks later Officer Peter Figoski was dead.

USA TODAY reporter Brad Heath followed coverage of the high-profile case.

“This must be out of the ordinary,” Heath remembered thinking. “I wonder ...

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Database used to highlight lax police misconduct oversight

We knew early in our investigation of Long Island police misconduct that police officers had committed dozens of disturbing offenses, ranging from cops who shot unarmed people to those who lied to frame the innocent. We also knew that New York state has some of the weakest oversight in the country.

What we didn’t know was if anyone had ever tried to change that. We suspected that the legislature, which reaps millions in contributions from law enforcement unions, hadn’t passed an attempt to rein in cops in years. But we needed to know for sure, and missing even ...

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2014 NICAR conference highlights data journalism’s past, present and future

"When I first attended the annual conference of the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) in 2012, it was as a speaker," writes Alexander Howard, a Tow Fellow at Columbia Journalism School's center for digital journalism innovation. 

"I was there to give a short talk about new data coming from the open governent movement. While it went well, and, somewhat remarkably, the presentation I used has over 10,000 views on Slideshare, I feel somewhat embarrassed about it in retrospect, given what I have learned about the NICAR community in 2012 and in the years since. This tribe of ...

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How to use inspection data to drive your stories

By Brittany Collins

Michael Pell, a reporter on the Reuters data team in New York, and Joce Sterman, an investigative reporter for WMAR-Baltimore, showed journalists at the 2014 CAR Conference how to mine inspection reports for data.

Several departments hold inspection documents, Sterman said.

  • Local health departments keep inspection files on restaurants, schools, airport facilities, school cafeterias and convenience stores.
  • State departments of labor, license and regulation keep documents on elevators, amusement park rides, bounce houses and railroad companies.
  • State departments of education keep records on daycare facilities and childcare.

Pell suggested reporters look for data in several places:

  • Inspector ...
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Hacks or Hackers?

By Kimberly Fields

Tor Ekeland, an attorney who represents defendants in federal prosecutions under the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act; Scott Klein, senior editor of news applications at ProPublica; and Isaac Wolf, a national reporter for Scripps News, talked about the ethical issues surrounding web scraping during the session “Hacks or Hackers?

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Assume you are going to be challenged: Wolf recently was threatened under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) after he and his news team scrapped 170,000 files, finding a data breach and fraudulent signatures. CFAA prohibits unauthorized access to protected computers ...
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Tips for investigating racial inequality

By Mariya Moseley

Nikole Hannah-Jones, ProPublica; Lawrence Lanahan, an independent journalist working in Baltimore; and Steve Doig, Arizona State University, shared tips and resources for investigating racial inequality during a session at the 2014 CAR Conference in Baltimore.

Lanahan, who launched a year-long multimedia examination of regional inequality, offered three steps for beginning the investigation process:

  • Get data on the disparities 
  • Find policies and practices driving racial gaps
  • Identify and learn the laws and regulations designed to hold people accountable for those policies and practices

Racial inequality extends beyond housing, unemployment and incarceration rates. Hannah-Jones suggested journalists look for disparities ...

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Data Deep Dives: What we can learn from 'Deadly Delays' and other powerful projects

By Ariana Giorgi

One of the best ways to start your own data story is to learn what worked – or didn’t work – for other journalists. Three pros took NICAR attendees behind their data-driven projects as part of “Data Deep Dives.”

 

Speeding Cops | John Maines, Sun Sentinel

John Maines presented his story on off-duty police officers who were speeding on their way home from work. The story was published as a three-part series focusing on the problem, the victims, and the police response. Maines discussed how his team used their own GPS data along with location data from the police ...

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A quick trip through data in the sciences

By Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Policy fellows from the American Association for the Advancement of Science took the audience on a tour of techniques they use in their work and presented some tips on how to interact better with experts in various scientific fields during the Saturday session, "A quick trip through data in the sciences."

Carolyn Lauzon presented a problem she encountered making sense of brain scan data as a doctoral researcher in medical imaging. "The question is, is the data good?" she said. "The answer is boxplots!"

Boxplots show the median, mean and spread of the data in a sample ...

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Clean that dirty data with OpenRefine

By Tim Sandoval

Reporters who've used Microsoft Excel for a story know that analysis doesn't begin until the data has been cleaned. Spreadsheets provided by governments or other entities are often not formatted the way reporters would like. Some agencies format the data in confusing ways, or do problematic things like spell words incorrectly in some cells. These problems make analysis difficult and can even lead to important data being left out.

In the session “CAR wash: Clean that dirty data,” Alex Richards, a reporter on the investigative team of The Chicago Tribune, taught attendees how to use ...

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