FOIA Machine sees early success on Kickstarter

On July 16, a team of journalists and developers launched a Kickstarter campaign for a project called FOIA Machine. They asked for $17,500 to build a tool to help journalists and citizens request public information — a “TurboTax for government records,” the team called it. Two days later, they passed that goal. A week later,…

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ProPublica releases open source version of Free the Files

The ProPublica News Apps team on Tuesday released Transcribable, an open source version of its Free the Files project, a web application that enabled the team to crowdsource a massive cache of campaign advertising spending documents. The open source version allows anyone with a DocumentCloud account to create their own application and start crowdsourcing their…

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Getting the widest impact out of your software project

Last week at the 2013 CAR Conference, DocumentCloud’s Lead Developer Ted Han joined a panel discussing how to get the widest impact out of a software project.  Reporter’s Lab has a thorough write-up of the panel, addressing the questions how much code is really re-used, and how to measure the success of a software project.…

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Getting started with an open-source database manager: MySQL

If you’re working from a Mac computer or getting into truly large datasets, Access may not be a viable option as a database manager. (It doesn’t work on Macs, and there are row limitations.) A good alternative is MySQL, an open-source database manager, which Alex Richards of the Chicago Tribune taught on Friday. MySQL essentially…

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Knight-Mozilla OpenNews announces 2013 fellows

Knight-Mozilla OpenNews yesterday announced its 2013 class of fellows, who will work as developers and technologists embedded in newsrooms around the world. Fellows spend a year writing code along with reporters, designers and newsroom developers to create new tools for journalism. Fellows for 2013 and their placements include: Brian Abelson, The New York Times Manuel…

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IRE announces winners of Freelance Fellowship competition

Columbia, Mo. – A very strong group of stories were submitted for the IRE Freelance Fellowship competition. The winners of the Freelance Fellowship for 2012 are:  Stephy Chung, freelance journalist working in Beijing, for her story “Rising Prostitution among Migrant Workers in Beijing” and Brendan Borrell, a freelance journalist who won for his story “The…

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Behind the Story: Investigating questionable police work when documents are redacted

One of the redacted documents California Watch received. In California Watch’s series Broken Shield, Ryan Gabrielson uncovered abuse and unknown injury cases at developmental centers that weren’t reported to the local police or district attorneys’ offices.  Despite a number of condemning reports and a decreasing patient population, the number of abuse and unknown injury cases…

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Visualizing data with Tableau, a trainer’s perspective

Journalsts at the 2012 CAR Conference attend hands-on Tableau training.Photo courtesy of Tableau By Daniel HomTableau Public   Many journalists have experienced leafing through stacks of documents, searching for important numbers to back up stories and trying to relay all of that in a way that captivates readers. It’s a world where too often multimedia…

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Selden Ring Award winner to speak at Spokane workshop

Photo credit: USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism Congratulations to Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong of The Seattle Times, for receiving the 2012 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, for their series “Methadone and the Politics of Pain.” Berens will be speaking at IRE’s Watchdog Workshop this weekend in Spokane, Wash. Berens and…

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Double-check environmental data

Many investigative reporters are recreational data users, but data alone cannot be trusted. “You can’t take what is in those databases for granted,” said Kate Golden, a reporter and multimedia producer for WisconsinWatch.org. At the panel “Environmental analyses for any newsroom,” she emphasized the importance of speaking with the lead agency to find out what…

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