Multiple data sets used to track fugitives who go free

In December 2011, a man fleeing from a drug robbery shot and killed New York City police officer Peter Figoski. New York reacted with understandable outrage, particularly when newspapers there revealed that the officer’s killer, Lamont Pride, should have been in jail at the time. The police in Greensboro, N.C. were already after Pride on…

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Journalists share tips for obtaining personally identifiable information

Data with personally identifiable information are an invaluable tool for reporters nationwide. For beat reporters and veteran investigative journalists alike, information such as names, birth dates and addresses can make or break a story. But access to such information isn’t guaranteed, with laws that restrict the public’s access a regular source of frustration. And bills adding…

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Getting shapefiles onto Google Maps

Since Google released its Maps API last year, the mapping mashup has emerged as the new trend in online media. Journalists, amateurs and Web developers have all hopped on board. And, for better  or  for  worse,  many  of  them  have spent  countless  hours  reinventing  the wheel. Plotting shapes: Census tracts. School districts. Bike routes. If…

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Data highlights unequal FEMA aid distribution in Colorado

There is a staggering number of federal disaster relief agencies; about 70 in all. Every one of them descended on Colorado last September. The rapid fall of seventeen inches of rain created home-destroying mudslides, swelled rivers to historic levels and killed at least eight residents. Our station and other media outlets scrambled to cover the…

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Data analysis reveals brokers with disciplinary problems still selling securities

During his 15-year run in the securities business, Kenneth Dwyer peddled stock for a half dozen firms that were later booted from the business by regulators. Collectively, the shuttered and defunct firms that Dwyer worked for had left thousands of investors with alleged losses and unpaid claims totaling more than $85 million, according to court…

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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…

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How to use free tools to create and display online polls

Online polls provide quick and easy ways to invite audience engagement in stories. The only problem is that few polling tools are ideal; either they lack flexibility, or they just don’t look very nice. Take PollDaddy. It’s great at polls, but you’re only allowed one question per poll (a survey allows more questions, but displaying…

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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…

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Financial data shows Okla. hospitals spend little on charity care

The idea to look at hospital finances and charity care came shortly after Oklahoma decided against expanding its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. After the state’s decision, the Oklahoma Hospital Association and others warned that the state’s hospitals – especially small rural hospitals – were already operating on slim budgets and the decision…

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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…

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