Tags : Conference

Start planning for the 2014 IRE Conference in San Francisco

The IRE Conference in San Francisco is only a few months away. Here are a few things to consider as you make your travel plans:


Expected Speakers and Sessions

The best in the business will gather for panels, hands-on classes and special presentations about covering business, public safety, government, health care, education, the military, the environment and other key beats. Still on the fence? Check out our lists of expected speakers and sessions. More names and titles will be added as the conference approaches.



Baseball Tickets

Grab your friends and enjoy a night cheering on the San Francisco ...

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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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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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Data Deep Dives: What we can learn from 'Deadly Delays' and other powerful projects

By Ariana Giorgi

One of the best ways to start your own data story is to learn what worked – or didn’t work – for other journalists. Three pros took NICAR attendees behind their data-driven projects as part of “Data Deep Dives.”


Speeding Cops | John Maines, Sun Sentinel

John Maines presented his story on off-duty police officers who were speeding on their way home from work. The story was published as a three-part series focusing on the problem, the victims, and the police response. Maines discussed how his team used their own GPS data along with location data from the police ...

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A quick trip through data in the sciences

By Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Policy fellows from the American Association for the Advancement of Science took the audience on a tour of techniques they use in their work and presented some tips on how to interact better with experts in various scientific fields during the Saturday session, "A quick trip through data in the sciences."

Carolyn Lauzon presented a problem she encountered making sense of brain scan data as a doctoral researcher in medical imaging. "The question is, is the data good?" she said. "The answer is boxplots!"

Boxplots show the median, mean and spread of the data in a sample ...

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Clean that dirty data with OpenRefine

By Tim Sandoval

Reporters who've used Microsoft Excel for a story know that analysis doesn't begin until the data has been cleaned. Spreadsheets provided by governments or other entities are often not formatted the way reporters would like. Some agencies format the data in confusing ways, or do problematic things like spell words incorrectly in some cells. These problems make analysis difficult and can even lead to important data being left out.

In the session “CAR wash: Clean that dirty data,” Alex Richards, a reporter on the investigative team of The Chicago Tribune, taught attendees how to use ...

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VIDEO: Census tips for every beat

By Irina Ivanova

Census tips for every beat from IRE/NICAR on Vimeo.

We all know the census contains data, but getting just the data you want out of it can be tricky. Paul Overberg and Ronald Campbell know this. Campbell used to call American Fact Finder "the tool of the devil" (though today only about a quarter of his audience agrees with him.) But there's hope.

Campbell, an independent journalist in California; Overberg, database editor at USA Today, and Mike Maciag, the data editor for Governing magazine, explained how to use Census-mining tools like IPUMS microdata and Census ...

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The art and craft of finding people

By Karim Lahlou

Journalists Julie Tate, The Washington Post, Rick Yarborough, NBC Washington, shared tips on how to locate sources using a combination of online and offline resources. Whether you’re looking for a source’s location, criminal history, or election contributions, the following list they’ve compiled is more than enough to get started. Get the link here.