Behind the Story: Disproportionate lending by race discovered with data

Photo credit:Joanne Lawton/Washington Business Journal It’s one thing to say African American entrepreneurs are recovering from the economic downturn slower than white entrepreneurs, it’s another to explain why.  That’s what Washington Business Journal reporter Bryant Switzky did using a database from the Small Business Administration and other datasets related to the Community Reinvestment Act. “The…

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Behind the Story: Multiple government websites help journalists get around FOIA requests

Not having access to the list of firms disqualified from the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program didn’t stop Dayton Daily News reporters from determining which companies were debarred from government contracts or from identifying some of the companies under investigation or disqualified from the program. The article, “’Rent-a-vet’ scam proves costly to taxpayers, businesses,” gives…

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Behind the Story: Battling attorneys and judges for documents

Photo credit:Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times In a season of cutbacks, Seattle Times reporter Christine Willmsen was surprised to see the state government proposing a budget increase. “I noted an add-on of an addition of over $20 million, and I thought that was odd,” Willmsen said. The budget listed a line item increase for civil commitment,…

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Behind the Story: Firefighters disabling the city’s budget

Photo credit:Elie Gardner/Post-Dispatch Social media can be an individual’s nightmare and a reporter’s goldmine. In “Disability pensions allow some firefighters to collect while working elsewhere,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s reporters used an array of investigative tools to publicize a mismanaged disability pension system that is eating away the city’s funds. But even when firefighters are capable…

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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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Behind the Story: When does an ongoing story warrant an investigation?

Photo credit:Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times (Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of our “Behind the Story” look at coverage of the Hanford nuclear reservation’s environmental issues.) Determining when an ongoing issue becomes an issue worth investigating isn’t always easy. Craig Welch, an environmental reporter for The Seattle Times who juggles topics from oceans to forests,…

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NICAR 2012 Wrap-Up

Hundreds of attendees and dozens of speakers descended on St. Louis for the 2012 Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference, for a weekend packed with data analysis, web development, other sessions, and a panda costume. We had a full team of students attending and blogging about panels throughout the conference. In all, the bloggers covered dozens of sessions,…

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Hack the Census

By Anna [email protected] “Hacking the Census” was a collection of lightning talks on tools, tricks and codes to hack the Census and American Community Survey, ranging from introductory to advanced. Steve Doig, professor at Arizona State University, said the Census has information about people and households, of course, but there’s also info on business, education, foreign trade, and more.…

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Tools, slides and links from NICAR12

IRE will be collecting tipsheets from the conference and storing them in the Resource Center for members to search and download. Chrys Wu, a journalist and engagement editor, is collecting online resources from the conference, as she did during the 2011 CAR Conference. Here is the beginning of her online post: One of the most popular posts…

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Making the most out of the 2012 CAR Conference

More than 100 panels, demos and hands-on training sessions will be offered at the 2012 Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference. From the basics of data analysis using Excel and Access to editing a news app and mining unstructured text for stories, this year’s conference has panels for all skill levels of data journalists, as well as general panels for…

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