Tags : data

How to use free tools to create and display online polls

Online polls provide quick and easy ways to invite audience engagement in stories. The only problem is that few polling tools are ideal; either they lack flexibility, or they just don't look very nice.

Take PollDaddy. It's great at polls, but you're only allowed one question per poll (a survey allows more questions, but displaying the results isn't as nice). You also need a corporate account to get a lot of the options that make it attractive, and not all publications have the budget for it.

Google Forms also allows multiple-question polling, but once again the ...

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Records shed light on lax landlords, broken housing code system

The deaths of a young couple and a 4-year-old child in a Christmas Eve fire exposed significant problems with landlords renting dilapidated and dangerous properties in Columbus, Ohio.

In the immediate aftermath, city officials – acting on public outcry – made promises to fix its broken housing code system. But when the outcry died, so did those promises, prompting The Columbus Dispatch’s “Legacy of Neglect” series.

The four-day series produced such overwhelming results that the mayor, other city officials and their housing code enforcement unit immediately declared war on slumlords who, our reporting found, regularly rented houses with unsafe electrical systems ...

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Behind the Story: How the Los Angeles Times turned an anonymous tip into a front-page story

Paige St. John

No such records exist. That’s the message Paige St. John received when she requested audit records on the Los Angeles County Probation Department’s GPS monitoring program.

Despite the rocky start, the Los Angeles Times reporter went on to break the story about trivial alerts from GPS monitors overwhelming probation officers in LA County. Officers had been using the monitors to track thousands of felons moved out of California prisons due to overcrowding. Receiving as many as 1,000 alerts a day, officers had come to frequently disregard the notices.

St. John began her investigation back ...

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Using new nonprofit law center, Hawaii’s Civil Beat wins access to police misconduct records

In the flood of paperwork that made its way each year to the Hawaii legislature, a shocking statistic slipped under the radar: About once a week the Honolulu Police Department was suspending or firing an officer for misconduct.

Often the offenses were serious – abusing suspects, lying to federal investigators, tipping off drug dealers. And for nearly two decades the information was kept quiet. Legislators paid little attention to the annual reports. Officers who resigned or got suspended for misconduct were shielded by a political loophole in the state’s public records law. Paperwork documenting the wrongdoing was often destroyed.

Civil ...

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A fight for newborn screening data across the country

By Ellen Gabler

Since June, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been fighting for important data that affects babies born in every state and the District of Columbia.

Data we’ve received so far was the backbone to this investigation into delays in the nation’s newborn screening programs and other related stories. But about two dozen states and the District of Columbia won’t release meaningful information. (Check our interactive to see which states are in the doghouse.) 

Here’s why it matters: Nearly every baby born in the U.S. has blood collected shortly after birth to screen for ...

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Winning T-shirt selected for NICAR 2014

The votes are in and the 2014 NICAR T-shirt has been selected!

The winner is a black T-shirt with “DATA OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN”.  The winning design comes from Jeremy Bowers of NPR. 

Bower’s design will be on sale at the 2014 CAR Conference in Baltimore and the IRE store.  In addition, Jeremy will receive $50 to use in the IRE Store and a free T-shirt. 

In second place is "NICAR!" from two-time defending champion Ben Welsh, Los Angeles Times, and in third place is Jeremy, again, with, "SPREADSHEETS OF FURY.” Both will be on sale as stickers.

Searches, scraping, help uncover massive data breach

They called us “hackers,” alerted the FBI and threatened a civil suit. But we were only doing our jobs.

The conflict arose as my colleagues at Scripps News and I reported on a trove of 170,000 highly sensitive documents that we’d found publicly posted online via a Google search. As we pursued the story, the company that had failed to secure its records forced us to address allegations that we’d broken the law.

Our experience provides several lessons for other newsrooms collecting and using sensitive records, including:

  • Record your process. A Scripps broadcast journalist shot footage of ...

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Vote now for the 2014 NICAR T-shirt

The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting received more than 20 submissions for its annual T-shirt contest, and voting is now open!

Voting will stay open for one week, ending Friday, Nov. 15 at midnight. The proposal with the most votes will be sold as a T-shirt at the upcoming CAR Conference, Feb. 27 to March 2, 2014 at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards. 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 ...

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Ten irrefutable and nonnegotiable rules of responsible data journalism

Few things in life (and journalism) are literally irrefutable and nonnegotiable. But we think this list comes pretty close. Journalists who use data come from a variety of backgrounds and have a wide spectrum of resources, skills, and time to do the work. Regardless of these differences, we’ve put together some simple rules that apply to a year-long project or a two-day turnaround, to a recent boot camp graduate or a veteran SQL hound, to a spreadsheet or a relational database.

  1. Remember to refer to data as plural, unless you find it annoying (and I do).

  2. Always save a ...

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Behind the Story: Two Cleveland reporters raise the issue of rape kits that sat untested for 20 years

Rachel Dissell and Leila Atassi wanted an answer to a seemingly simple question: how many untested rape kits did the Cleveland Police Department have in storage?

The answer: “We don’t know.”

The reporters’ question prompted Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in 2011 to ask all Ohio law enforcement agencies to send their rape kits to labs for testing, some of which had been collecting dust for twenty years.

Two years later, 59 people have been indicted for rapes committed in Cleveland up to two decades ago. In some cases prosecutors had to race against time to file indictments within ...

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