Tags : Excel

New webinar focuses on data journalism for broadcasters

KTVB-Boise investigative reporter Jamie Grey explains how to get started on data projects, offering story ideas and tips for visualizing data on air. She walks through several examples including:

  • Finding stories in airport and flight data
  • Analyzing interstate crash data using basic Excel techniques
  • Charting population change using driver's license data
  • Using county jail data to determine the cost of recidivism
  • Turning quick-hit stories using post-election and bridge data

Grey's presentation is designed for broadcast journalists, but would be good for anyone looking to get started in data journalism.

"Data Journalism for Broadcasters" is the latest in a ...

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Records shed light on lax landlords, broken housing code system

The deaths of a young couple and a 4-year-old child in a Christmas Eve fire exposed significant problems with landlords renting dilapidated and dangerous properties in Columbus, Ohio.

In the immediate aftermath, city officials – acting on public outcry – made promises to fix its broken housing code system. But when the outcry died, so did those promises, prompting The Columbus Dispatch’s “Legacy of Neglect” series.

The four-day series produced such overwhelming results that the mayor, other city officials and their housing code enforcement unit immediately declared war on slumlords who, our reporting found, regularly rented houses with unsafe electrical systems ...

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Data leads way to suspect tutoring companies

A little creative thinking and some simple tricks using Microsoft Access and Excel allowed us to report how criminals, cheaters and insiders were benefitting from subsidized tutoring in Florida.

Federal law requires the state to pay contractors to tutor poor kids in failing schools, and, because of the loose way in which the program was run, I expected to find abuses.

While trying to test this theory I did some seriously jury-rigged data work, but it got the job done.

First, I visited an online state directory of so-called supplemental educational services providers and exported a list of more than ...

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Alfred Friendly Fellow falls in love with Excel during IRE training

By Mugambi Mutegi

Editor's note: in July, IRE hosted the 2013 class of Alfred Friendly Fellows for training in training in computer-assisted and investigative reporting, covering Excel spreadsheets and more. One of the fellows, Mugambi Mutegi, wrote about his experience using Excel for the Alfred Friendly Press Partners, republished below.

In the short time I have been alive, I had not until recently come across anybody who, upon using MS Excel for the first time, instantly fell in love with the program.

I’m sure such people exist, but I can hazard that they do not exceed six – worldwide ...

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Atlanta-area banks missing tax payments

With a housing market once dubbed “ground zero” for mortgage fraud, Atlanta is still very much in the midst of the foreclosure crisis.

Even the nicest neighborhoods have been hit hard; the anecdotal evidence is everywhere. In poorer neighborhoods, entire blocks are deserted.

We initially had envisioned a series of reports quantifying the number of abandoned homes in a five-county area and explaining the reasons these houses sit neglected.

We brainstormed about which records would indicate a house had been abandoned.  We requested past due utility bills, code enforcement violations and unpaid property taxes. In Microsoft Excel, we built individual ...

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Data show high cost of air ambulance transfers

I don't remember how the subject came up, but at one point in a conversation with a mover and shaker in Sioux Falls, we started talking about hospital helicopters.

Sioux Falls is home to two hospital systems. Each system has smaller hospitals in South Dakota, as well as other states in the Upper Great Plains. The Mother Ship hospitals in Sioux Falls have medical helicopters, and it's pretty common to see them flying around.

The mover and shaker told me about a meeting he had with executives at one of the systems. During the meeting, a helicopter started ...

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Behind the Story: The big business of 'green' buildings and LEED certification

Can a 50-story Las Vegas hotel be environmentally-friendly?  This is the question USA Today reporter Tom Frank sought to answer when he began reporting on the increase in construction of so-called environmentally friendly buildings.  Through his investigation, Frank found that green commercial construction has increased.  Non-profits are behind the movement, but few have assessed the real impact of their programs.  Often, green building improvements are simply cheap routes to large tax breaks.  Frank’s ongoing Green Inc. series explores the challenges non-profit groups face in helping for-profit businesses “go green.”

His investigation began with an online search of the U ...

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Excel on steroids: NodeXL and PowerPivot

By Hilary Niles
@nilesmedia

Excel has two free, plug-ins for Windows users that can dramatically help reporters: NodeXL and PowerPivot. (Sorry Mac devotees, nothing for us.)

Tom Torok, CAR editor of The New York Times, and Peter AldhousNew Scientist’s San Francisco Bureau Chief demoed the two plugins at the 2012 CAR Conference.

NodeXL is a network analysis tool compatible with Windows 2007 and 2010 that allows you to visualize, quantify and otherwise describe connections between people, organizations, or really anything. Because of its broad applicability, Aldhous chose to not refer to it as “social network analysis,” but you ...

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CAR TOOL: Microsoft SkyDrive

The Seattle Times recently began publishing interactive data online using a free cloud-based tool: Microsoft Office Web Apps on SkyDrive. So far, we have mostly dabbled with Excel spreadsheets, but we hope to use more of the software in the future.

Office Web Apps is in some ways similar to Google Docs and can be used to store files and share documents with small groups of users.

At The Seattle Times, we use it to present interactive data to our readers. SkyDrive allows us to share our documents by generating some iframe code. We can also tweak the code ourselves ...

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Nursing home promises fall short

When the California legislature passed a law to drastically increase funding to nursing homes, it came with a promise that worker wages would rise, staffing would soar and patient care would improve.

The law passed in 2004. When I started working on investigative articles for California Watch in the fall of 2009, it seemed like a good idea to take a close look at whether the promises attached to hundreds of millions of dollars came true.

What we found was noteworthy. State and federal funders poured an additional $880 million into nursing homes over five years, moving the annual funding ...

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