How to bulletproof your data story

By Shane Sanderson When the Palm Beach Post obtained a spreadsheet made by a clerical worker at the local medical examiner’s office, reporters had to verify it. The office worker had noticed an escalation in the number of overdose deaths and she began a project recording the details. The resulting spreadsheet had something like 100…

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How journalists can distill wide, complicated data

By Dariya Tsyrenzhapova How do journalists make sense out of the abundance of data out there? Are medians and averages actually accurate representations of reality? What are the best ways to improve your storytelling with numbers? Larry Fenn, a data journalist with the Associated Press, Paul Overberg with the Wall Street Journal and Holly Hacker…

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Track the economic impact of Hurricane Matthew

View of Hurricane Katrina destruction in the city of New Orleans. (Photo by NOAA / Creative Commons)  In the wake of any natural disaster, there’s a seemingly endless number of public service and accountability stories to chase. You want to know when the power is going to come back on. How many people have been…

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Report on the student debt crisis with our new simplified database

Student debt is quickly becoming a national crisis. But reporting on student loans and college finances has always been thorny, especially when dealing with complicated bureaucracies and patchwork data. Earlier this year, for the first time ever, the Obama Administration released a comprehensive intersection of student population, college performance and “outcome” data, measuring with precise…

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Enhance your breaking news reporting with data and documents

By Quint Forgey The old newspaper adage, “there is no news in the newsroom,” no longer applies to American media. That’s because journalists can easily access publicly available data to quickly enhance reporting and put journalists hours – even days – ahead of competitors when local news breaks. In Thursday’s session, “Data for breaking news,”…

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Quickly report on dangerous winter driving conditions using our new database

More than 3,100 people across the country died in fatal car crashes in the three-day window around Christmas in the 11-year period from 2003 to 2013. More than 500 of those involved snow, rain, sleet or hail, according to accident records. It’s easy to localize a story about dangerous winter driving conditions in your community.…

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Getting on a boat this summer?

It’s officially summer and people are spending a lot of time in the water. If you’re looking for a good story, one place to look is the boating accidents dataset in the NICAR data library. It’s been recently updated to include 2014 and is free for IRE members. Kept by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Recreational…

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Updated at NICAR: FBI Uniform Crime Reports and SBA Disaster Loans

We’ve posted two updated datasets at the NICAR data library this week: FBI Uniform Crime Reports for 2013 and Small Business Administration Disaster Loans through February 2015. See below for details.   FBI UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS Law enforcement agencies around the country voluntarily submit reports to the FBI on what are known as “index” crimes: Murder, nonnegligent manslaughter,…

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You got your hands on a great data set. Now what?

By Glynn A. Hill Four journalists discussed tips for reporting out a data story at the 2015 CAR Conference in Atlanta. Steve Myers, visiting professor at Texas Christian University and special projects editor at The Lens, facilitated the panel. Speakers included James Ball, a special projects editor at The Guardian; Andy Lehren, a reporter for…

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Database quantifies wasted natural gas from Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas

An interactive map shows how the volume of flared gas in Texas counties has increased over time – especially in the Eagle Ford Shale.  By John Tedesco, San Antonio Express-News The energy boom that’s showering rural South Texas with money is also wasting an irreplaceable natural resource. Drive through the bustling oil patch of the…

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