Data shows congressional divide in Ohio

Ohio, like many others, is a highly gerrymandered state. Although it’s a considered a swing state in presidential politics, the state’s congressional delegation, Ohio House and Senate are overwhelmingly Republican. In 2012, for example, President Barack Obama beat Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 3 percentage points, but three fourths of the state’s 16 congressional districts…

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Fire data helps show scope of arsons

Convicted arsonist Kenneth Allen paused for a moment during an interview in front of our television cameras at his Muncie, Ind., home. Then he offered a remarkable admission. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think: ‘Man, I was a monster.’ I’m just thankful no one was hurt,” said Allen, who had…

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Searches, scraping, help uncover massive data breach

They called us “hackers,” alerted the FBI and threatened a civil suit. But we were only doing our jobs. The conflict arose as my colleagues at Scripps News and I reported on a trove of 170,000 highly sensitive documents that we’d found publicly posted online via a Google search. As we pursued the story, the…

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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…

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Medicare data reveals improper prescriptions

When ProPublica’s Charlie Ornstein filed a federal Freedom of Information Act request for Medicare prescribing data, he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. For good reason: the U.S. Health and Human Services Inspector General has found over the years that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was not monitoring how physicians prescribe…

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Flaws in hazardous chemical data

An explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas, killed 14 people in April and destroyed about a third of the town. The town middle school was ruined, the high school was condemned. A nearby apartment building and a senior living center were blown to shreds. In pursuing this story, Reuters’ data team obtained the…

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Analysis shows shortcomings in N.J. tax incentives

When states suffered severe job losses during the recession, many responded by pouring money into tax incentive programs. Most states offer a litany of incentives targeted for different types of companies. Some are meant to lure employers from neighboring jurisdictions, while others fund expansions of existing businesses. Our story focused on New Jersey, which had…

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Data matching finds felons with N.C. gun permits

Gun control in North Carolina has always been a heated topic. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and the decision by a suburban New York City newspaper to publish the addresses of local gun permit holders gave both sides of the North Carolina gun control issue ammunition. And, as usual, much of…

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Analysis finds non-competitive Canadian contracts

This data-driven investigation was years in the making. The Canadian government has for some time required its agencies to report all contracts valued over $10,000. Along with travel expenses and grant awards, these contract announcements fall under what the government calls proactive disclosure. Each agency, or ministry, in Canada has a link on its website…

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Detecting lobbying in White House visitor data

A few weeks after I returned from an IRE and NICAR boot camp earlier this year, I got a copy of proposed changes to a rule for fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – for oil and gas on public land that was being developed by federal regulators. Just about every change to the Bureau of…

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