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The ProPublica Nerd Blog

How ProPublica’s Message Machine Reverse Engineers Political Microtargeting

ProPublica has been collecting political emails for a project we call the Message Machine, with the help of more than 600 readers who have shared demographic information with us and who have so far forwarded us more than 30,000 political emails. The Message Machine identifies and classifies many different emails as different variations of a single email blast, to highlight and analyze the ways in which campaigns use their sizable databases to customize their messages based on what they know about each recipient.

We’ve been publishing our collection for a few months, and today we are publishing the latest results of our analysis. The Machine uses techniques from Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to analyze every email our readers forward to it.

Introducing a Free the Files API

Get a Free the Files Widget

Our Free the Files project is tracking political ad spending in 33 battleground television markets around the country.

Want to track how many files have been freed around the country or in your market? Use this form to generate a custom widget to put on your site. Fill in how wide you'd like the widget to be (we suggest 300 pixels), and select either "All Markets" or a specific market from the dropdown menu. Then click "Get Code." Copy and paste the code in the box below into your site. This widget will automatically stay up to date as we track political TV spending through the election.

Free the Files: Help ProPublica Unlock Political Ad Spending

Outside groups are spending millions of dollars hoping to influence political campaigns – but they’re hard to track down. Detailed information about spending is locked in documents filed at TV stations across the country. Help us uncover this spending by reviewing documents.

State-by-State: Underground Injection Wells

Through the Freedom of Information Act, ProPublica collected annual state regulatory summaries for the underground injection of waste that were submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency between late 2007 and late 2010.

Interactive: Stacking Up the Administration’s Drone Claims

How the government talks about a drone program it won’t acknowledge exists.

How Some Nonprofit Groups Funnel Dark Money Into Campaigns

Explore how tax-exempt groups active in the 2010 election spent millions of dollars on campaigns, sometimes reporting less political spending to the Internal Revenue Service than they did to election officials.

Adventure Awaits: Another ProPublica News Apps Fellowship

Graphic: Who are the Super PACs’ Biggest Donors?

An interactive chart showing the share of all contributions given by the top ten donors to each of the 12 largest super PACs.

The ProPublica Pair Programming Project

The ProPublica Pair Programming Project - or P5 - is a program to open the ProPublica News Apps desk to newsroom coders who want to work on a ProPublica project, or to finish a project of their own, from the ProPublica offices in New York.

Knight Foundation Grant to Support ProPublica’s News Applications Desk

We’re very pleased to announce that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has made a grant to support ProPublica’s news applications desk. The grant will support and enhance our ongoing efforts in what we call “news applications,” which we believe represent an emerging discipline within journalism.

Interactive: How Obama Drone Death Claims Stack Up

Obama administration assertions about the number of civilians killed by U.S. drone strikes have varied widely. We charted every claim we could find.

How a Map That Wasn’t a Map Became a Map

Where Are the Foreclosure Deal Millions Going in Your State?

We contacted every state to see how they are spending the money they received from the foreclosure settlement. Here’s the most comprehensive breakdown available anywhere.

Murdoch’s Circle: The Growing News International Scandal

From phone hacking to bribery, the corruption at News International has involved many players—increasingly, ones close to Rupert Murdoch. We’ve mapped out the players involved in this growing debacle, organized by their proximity to Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and other senior staff.

Timeline: How Obama Compares to Bush on Torture, Surveillance and Detention

As the terrain and debate around national security shifts, we took a look back at some of the most controversial elements of George W. Bush’s national security policy, to see how much has changed under Obama – and how much has stayed the same.

Latest News Corp. Investigation Emails

Report your findings in over 160 News Corp. internal emails released today

Updated: Dialysis Facility Tracker

ProPublica obtained data about the performance of more than 5,000 U.S. dialysis clinics. Our Dialysis Facility Tracker allows patients to compare clinics on such measures as patient survival, infection control, hospitalization rates and transplant rates.

Useful Code Snippets

Open Source code doesn’t always come in big complex packages. At ProPublica we sometimes share small, simple snippets of using GitHub “Gists.” These Gists rarely have documentation and don’t even always have names, but they can be super-useful. Here are some we’ve shared over the past few years.

A Tangled Web: Who’s Making Money From All This Campaign Spending?

Many have been detailing the vast sums being raised by the presidential candidates and the super PACs supporting them. But where are all those millions being spent?

The News Apps Team

Hack With Us

ProPublica hosts newsroom developers -- or developers who want to see what it's like to work in news -- for 3-5 day job shadowing residencies called the ProPublica Pair Programming Project, or P5.

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Use ProPublica's data -- cleaned, categorized and often created from multiple sources -- in your reporting and research.

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