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Some Gulf Spill Claimants Waiting for Months: Feinberg Blames Tricky Policy Decisions

Since Gulf spill claims czar Kenneth Feinberg took over from BP in late August, many claimants have reported that their applications have remained under review for months and that they have not yet received decisions.

Roughly 71,000 claims are currently under review, according to statistics from Feinberg's operation (PDF). Feinberg's program does not provide statistics on how long claimants have been waiting. But ProPublica and the Washington Independent have both spoken to numerous claimants who say their applications have been in limbo for over a month.

A New Partnership: American Public Media’s Public Insight Network

Today we are announcing our partnership with American Public Media's Public Insight Network.

The Public Insight Network began in 2003 at Minnesota Public Radio as a new way to connect journalists with the community they serve -- through harnessing the knowledge and lived experience of the online audience to inform journalists. After two years in the Regional newsroom, MPR's national branch -- American Public Media -- took it to Marketplace and other national APM programs. (APM is the second largest producer of public radio programming in the U.S.) Nowadays, PIN is far more than a set of methods or tools -- PIN is a platform for collaboration between a network of news organizations and radio stations that share some of their sources and their insights with each other using PIN's technology. Among PIN's many partners are Southern California's KPCC, the Miami Herald, the Center for Public Integrity and The Washington Post.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is ProPublica collaborating with APM's Public Insight Network?

Since we began our Reporting Network (for details, see the next question) we've heard from thousands of people about their experiences. American Public Media approached us about becoming a newsroom in the Public Insight Network, which offers tools for managing our source networks and enables readers to help other newsrooms partnered with American Public Media. So, we joined forces with APM.

When you respond to requests for stories and information on ProPublica's website that are associated with the Public Insight Network, you are offering up information to ProPublica and other newsrooms within the network. That means you help us and other newsrooms to hit the ground running -- filtering up stories and experiences that tell us where to look and what questions to ask. You can find more details on our about page.

How do I join the Public Insight Network?

If you respond to a request for information on our site that's co-branded Public Insight Network (PIN), you'll become part of the network. Or you can sign up here.

What happens once I join the Public Insight Network?

When ProPublica needs your help making sense of an issue or reporting on the news, we'll send out an e-mail to you. The e-mail will tell you about an issue we're examining and will ask you to share your insights in an attached questionnaire. If the request isn't relevant to you, please forward it on to someone who you think will have expertise on this topic. You should expect an e-mail about once a month.

Other newsrooms like Marketplace, the Center for Public Integrity and Southern California's KPCC are also building the Public Insight Network. On occasion, you may receive requests to help them, too. The full list of Public Insight Network newsrooms can be found here.

Who reads the information I share?

Your responses go to both Amanda Michel, Director of Engagement at ProPublica, and the reporters covering related issues or subjects. You can reach Amanda with any comments, questions and story ideas at amanda@propublica.org or call 917-512-0219. After a time, journalists at other Public Insight Network newsrooms will also be able to see your contact information and the insights you have shared.

Will my information be public?

We won't quote or cite you without permission. Your information is privately and securely stored. It is not shared outside a group of journalists who agree to maintain its confidentiality. Here is the privacy policy for the Public Insight Network.

What if I just want to pass on information, and I don't want any future requests?

You should know that ProPublica reporters have many sources who are not members of either ProPublica's Reporting Network or the Public Insight Network. If you have important information you want to share with a ProPublica reporter and don't want to field any future requests, please e-mail Amanda Michel. She'll connect you with a ProPublica reporter.

Why do you ask me about my interests and expertise when I sign up?

We're usually looking for insight and information about a variety of topics, ranging from the Gulf spill claims process to the government's "Making Homes Affordable" program to unemployment insurance. Just a little information about you and your interests makes it possible for us to better direct relevant questions your way. Also, it's important that we know who is responding to our requests.

May I share your questions and call-outs on my blog, or through Facebook/Twitter or local listservs?

Please do!

How do I unsubscribe?

Do you only want to hear from ProPublica? Then unsubscribe from the Public Insight Network, and you're done. If you don't want to hear from either of us, then fill out this form to unsubscribe from PIN and this form to unsubscribe from the Reporting Network.

Reporting Recipe: Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for Data Projects

Of all of journalism’s recent evolutions, data-driven reporting is one of the most celebrated. But as much as we should toast data’s powers, we must acknowledge its cost: Assembling even a small dataset can require hours of tedious work, deterring even the most disciplined of journalists and their editors.

ProPublica’s Guide to Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk – or mTurk – is an online marketplace, set up by the online shopping site Amazon, where anyone can hire workers to complete short, simple tasks over the Internet. Amazon originally developed it as an in-house tool, and commercialized it in 2005. The mTurk workforce now numbers more than 100,000 workers in 200 countries, according to Amazon. At ProPublica, we use it for tasks like collecting, reformatting, and de-duplicating data.

This is a guide to journalists looking to use Mechanical Turk in their data projects. It’s meant for users who are already familiar with mTurk and are looking for ways to improve their results. Readers who are new to Mechanical Turk should start with Amazon’s mTurk Resource Center.

Photo by flickr user sparkieblues http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkieblues/3971258497/

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