Tags : database

Federal education data highlights rising college costs for low-income students

If you’re shopping for a college, forget the published sticker price. Just like airline passengers on the same flight, students on the same campus can pay vastly different rates.

And on the whole, those rates are increasing faster for the poorest students.

That’s what a Dallas Morning News analysis of federal education data found this year. In a project with the Hechinger Report, we examined four years of data showing what students actually paid, based on their family income. We produced several stories and an online search tool called Tuition Tracker.  

The inequity was most glaring at the ...

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Medical examiner databases shed light on North Carolina’s death investigation system

Tom Cooper died face down in a pool of blood on his kitchen floor. Virginia Gregg was found dead in her closet. And a co-worker discovered Fred Lookabill dead on the steps of his front porch.

North Carolina medical examiners ruled all three died from natural causes.

They were wrong.

Forget what you've seen on television dramas. North Carolina's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner investigates suspicious deaths much like it did 40 years ago.

Medical examiners don't rush to the scene. (They don't go at all 90 percent of the time.)

They don't wield ...

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Multiple data sets used to track fugitives who go free

In December 2011, a man fleeing from a drug robbery shot and killed New York City police officer Peter Figoski. New York reacted with understandable outrage, particularly when newspapers there revealed that the officer’s killer, Lamont Pride, should have been in jail at the time.

The police in Greensboro, N.C. were already after Pride on charges that he had shot another man during an argument. But when Pride ...

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Journalists share tips for obtaining personally identifiable information

Data with personally identifiable information are an invaluable tool for reporters nationwide. For beat reporters and veteran investigative journalists alike, information such as names, birth dates and addresses can make or break a story. But access to such information isn’t guaranteed, with laws that restrict the public’s access a regular source of frustration. And bills adding to those restrictions are introduced regularly.

But short of lobbying state legislatures for changes in the law, what can journalists do to get the data they request? What are some techniques and methods that journalists have used to negotiate successfully for data ...

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How to use CDC data to report on gun deaths

Dan Keating of the Washington Post used the CDC Wonder database to explore the racial breakdowns of gun deaths. What he found challenges the idea of having a gun for protection — at least for some.

"A white person is five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun as to be shot with a gun; for each African American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns."

Learn how to use the same CDC data to investigate causes of death in your area.

Want more?

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Nurses with criminal records allowed to keep working in Minn.

Our data-driven investigation, “When Nurses Fail,” found that hundreds of nurses with records of unsafe practice, patient harm, criminal charges or convictions continue to practice in Minnesota. A state monitoring program for drug-addicted health professionals allowed nurses to continue despite abusing drugs or alcohol, stealing from their patients and failing numerous drug tests.

Nurses with histories of drug use, crime or neglect were able to obtain licenses and find jobs because of flaws in the state background check system. Patients were unaware that their nurses had troubled backgrounds. One parent inadvertently hired a nurse with a history of making crystal ...

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Behind the Story: How USA TODAY pieced together a confidential FBI database to count fugitives who go free

Brad Heath

Lamont Pride was a wanted man the day he fatally shot a New York City police officer during a 2011 robbery. Officials had already passed up opportunities to lock up Pride, who was wanted in connection with a North Carolina shooting. And when the fugitive appeared in a Brooklyn court on a drug charge, a judge aware of the warrant also decided to let him go. A few weeks later Officer Peter Figoski was dead.

USA TODAY reporter Brad Heath followed coverage of the high-profile case.

“This must be out of the ordinary,” Heath remembered thinking. “I wonder ...

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Database used to highlight lax police misconduct oversight

We knew early in our investigation of Long Island police misconduct that police officers had committed dozens of disturbing offenses, ranging from cops who shot unarmed people to those who lied to frame the innocent. We also knew that New York state has some of the weakest oversight in the country.

What we didn’t know was if anyone had ever tried to change that. We suspected that the legislature, which reaps millions in contributions from law enforcement unions, hadn’t passed an attempt to rein in cops in years. But we needed to know for sure, and missing even ...

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Financial data shows Okla. hospitals spend little on charity care

The idea to look at hospital finances and charity care came shortly after Oklahoma decided against expanding its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

After the state’s decision, the Oklahoma Hospital Association and others warned that the state’s hospitals – especially small rural hospitals – were already operating on slim budgets and the decision not to expand Medicaid and give more people health coverage would make the situation worse, including leading to closure of some hospitals.

To test this claim, Oklahoma Watch set out to get financial data for each hospital in the state. Along the way, we also ...

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AUDIO: Using data to cover hazmat pollution

By Hannah Schmidt

Journalists Denise Malan, Ben Poston and Tim Wheeler all used data to create stories on hazardous materials and the environment. The three discussed state and national databases that track pollution and hazardous waste at the NICAR Conference in Baltimore.

NICAR offers a hazardous waste database. Malan described how to use it and what kinds of data reporters can find.


She also gave examples of stories that were created from the dataset:

Iowa Watch: Little Information Exists About Hazardous Materials Traveling Across Iowa 

MinnPost: Visualizing hazmat incidents in Minnesota  

Public Source: PA fifth in the nation in hazardous ...

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