The Richmond Times-Dispatch is seeking a data reporter.
You should be comfortable digging into record sets large and small, finding hidden stories and creating graphics and maps that crystallize your reporting. You’ll need to balance quick-hit analysis on things like the daily hospitalization trends for COVID-19 with medium- and long-term stories that drive discussions and lead to change.
You’ll have a constant stream of story ideas; all that data is worthless if you can’t spot the story it might tell.
At the Times-Dispatch, we’ve used public records to determine that inmates at one regional jail died nine times more often than any other similar facility in Virginia. We followed a trail of Suboxone distribution data from the DEA to the southwest corner of the state, which was struggling to cope with ramifications from latest cure for opioid addiction. Last year, we created our own database using court records on adult guardianship use by hospitals for a series that resulted in a new state law banning the practices we described.
You should be experienced filing Freedom of Information requests to local, state and federal agencies, and using other public sources to find the data you need. You’ll know how to clean and then make sense of the messy data that often comes from the government. You’ll tinker with charts and throw it on a map to see what stands out, whether that means looking at trends by locality, ZIP code or census tract. You’ll know the limits of your numbers, and who to call to make sense of them. And you’ll look for ways to engage with communities to build your own data sets.
You’ll write stories alone and help reporters across the newsroom push their stories to the next level.
Send a cover letter, resume, and your five best data clips (please include a link to the underlying data and your methodology for your findings) to John Ramsey at [email protected]