CAR Conference Blog

NICAR Conference to offer more Sunday classes

While you're making your plans to head to the 2015 NICAR Conference in Atlanta, we don't want you to overlook Sunday, March 8. As part of our response to the growing demand for hands-on classes, we plan to offer more Sunday morning classes than ever before. For example, we'll have this three-hour workshop designed and taught by Ben Welsh of the Los Angeles Times:

Just Enough Django: Distributed data entry in the newsroom - Ben Welsh presents a step-by-step guide to creating a simple web application that empowers you to enlist reporters in data entry and refinement. The ...

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Vote now for the 2015 NICAR T-shirt

NICAR received 21 submissions for its annual T-shirt contest, and voting is now open!

Voting will stay open for about two weeks, ending Sunday, Nov. 2 at midnight. The proposal with the most votes will be sold as a T-shirt at the upcoming CAR Conference, March 5-8, 2015 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Runners-up will be sold as laptop stickers. Votes will be tallied shortly after voting closes.

The designer of the winning T-shirt also gets a free shirt and $50 in the IRE Store.

Visit the contest page to view the designs and vote.

Now accepting 2015 CAR Conference T-shirt designs

The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting will once again be selling a T-shirt in celebration of data and the people who love and care for them, which will help raise money for future NICAR training events.

NICAR is currently accepting ideas and designs for T-shirts. We will accept entries up through Sunday, Oct. 19. Send official entries to Only submissions sent to that email will be entered in the contest.

Designs will be posted to the contest page as they are received. Voting will open shortly after we’ve received all entries, near the end of October ...

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Submit session, speaker ideas for NICAR15 in Atlanta

We're gearing up for our annual data journalism conference March 5-8 in Atlanta and want your input to make this the best NICAR yet.

We're accepting session and speaker ideas through September 12. Please submit your ideas using the link below. If you'd rather send them via email, please use

Thanks to all of you who've submitted ideas and attended our conferences in the past. We couldn't do it without you. Your enthusiasm and creativity help us put on amazing events and we can't wait to see your latest ideas.

If ...

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2014 NICAR conference highlights data journalism’s past, present and future

"When I first attended the annual conference of the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) in 2012, it was as a speaker," writes Alexander Howard, a Tow Fellow at Columbia Journalism School's center for digital journalism innovation. 

"I was there to give a short talk about new data coming from the open governent movement. While it went well, and, somewhat remarkably, the presentation I used has over 10,000 views on Slideshare, I feel somewhat embarrassed about it in retrospect, given what I have learned about the NICAR community in 2012 and in the years since. This tribe of ...

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2014 CAR Conference audio available online

Couldn't make it to all of the sessions on your NICAR Conference wish list? We've got audio from nearly every panel and session. Full-length recordings are only available to IRE members. Some short audio clips will be made available to the public using Soundcloud.

To access conference audio, log in to IRE website and go to the CAR Conference schedule page. Find the session you'd like to listen to and click through to the landing page. If you don't remember the name or date of the session, try using the speakers page to look up a ...

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How to use inspection data to drive your stories

By Brittany Collins

Michael Pell, a reporter on the Reuters data team in New York, and Joce Sterman, an investigative reporter for WMAR-Baltimore, showed journalists at the 2014 CAR Conference how to mine inspection reports for data.

Several departments hold inspection documents, Sterman said.

  • Local health departments keep inspection files on restaurants, schools, airport facilities, school cafeterias and convenience stores.
  • State departments of labor, license and regulation keep documents on elevators, amusement park rides, bounce houses and railroad companies.
  • State departments of education keep records on daycare facilities and childcare.

Pell suggested reporters look for data in several places:

  • Inspector ...
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Hacks or Hackers?

By Kimberly Fields

Tor Ekeland, an attorney who represents defendants in federal prosecutions under the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act; Scott Klein, senior editor of news applications at ProPublica; and Isaac Wolf, a national reporter for Scripps News, talked about the ethical issues surrounding web scraping during the session “Hacks or Hackers?

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Assume you are going to be challenged: Wolf recently was threatened under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) after he and his news team scrapped 170,000 files, finding a data breach and fraudulent signatures. CFAA prohibits unauthorized access to protected computers ...
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Tips for investigating racial inequality

By Mariya Moseley

Nikole Hannah-Jones, ProPublica; Lawrence Lanahan, an independent journalist working in Baltimore; and Steve Doig, Arizona State University, shared tips and resources for investigating racial inequality during a session at the 2014 CAR Conference in Baltimore.

Lanahan, who launched a year-long multimedia examination of regional inequality, offered three steps for beginning the investigation process:

  • Get data on the disparities 
  • Find policies and practices driving racial gaps
  • Identify and learn the laws and regulations designed to hold people accountable for those policies and practices

Racial inequality extends beyond housing, unemployment and incarceration rates. Hannah-Jones suggested journalists look for disparities ...

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