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The ProPublica Nerd Blog

The Rainbow Connection: How We Made Our CDO Connections Graphic

On Wednesday, we launched an interactive news application to help readers understand the cross-owned nature of Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) in 2006-2007. This cross-ownership helped inflate the bubble, and ultimately made the financial crisis worse.

We received a list of cross-owned CDOs as a result of a study ProPublica commissioned from Thetica, a consulting company in New York. It consisted of a list of CDOs, the banks that sponsored them, the CDO managers who managed them, and an enumerated list of other CDOs in which it had both sold and bought a stake. Reporters Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger had already used the data in their story, Banks’ Self-Dealing Super-Charged Financial Crisis.

CDOs’ Interlocking Ownership

See which CDOs exchanged pieces with other CDOs through our interactive feature that reveals the incestuous nature of Wall Street’s CDO business.

Pixel Ping: A node.js Stats Tracker

Since the day we launched, ProPublica has encouraged people to republish our stories for free. We even license our stories under Creative Commons (CC). However, in the past we've had trouble knowing precisely which stories had been republished where, and we had no way of knowing how many people were reading our stories on sites that republished them under our CC license.

Shortly after the redesign of our site, we started working on a system that would help us solve this problem. When we found out that Jeremy Ashkenas, a developer at DocumentCloud, was working on a similar problem, we joined forces, and finished work on a lightweight stats tracker, which we are open sourcing today.

World, meet Pixel Ping.

Welcome to the Nerd Blog

Today we are introducing our Nerd Blog, a place to talk about what programmer-journalists at ProPublica are working on, announce newly-launched news applications, and to hear from technically-minded readers, as well as our fellow nerdy journalists. We’re going to be writing about each of our projects as we release them, and flagging open source tools we’ve found useful.

So what the heck is a “news application”? It’s an interactive web page that uses software instead of words and pictures to do journalism.

Chart: A Bank’s Best Customers

In the last two years of the boom, CDOs created by one bank commonly purchased slices of other CDOs created by the same bank.

BP Claims Tracker

Follow the damage claims from the Gulf Oil Spill paid by HP.

Bailout Scorecard

Our frequently updated database tracks every dollar and every bailout recipient. Check out our scorecard to see where the spending stands.

“What Health Care Reform Means” Stories

Using results from a questionnaire we did with American Public Media’s Public Insight Network, we examined how the proposed health care reforms will actually affect people facing common health care coverage situations.

Graphic: The Timeline of Magnetar’s Deals

How did Magnetar’s deals in subprime mortgage securities compare to the overall market’s?

Side By Side: Health Care Bill

Compare the Senate version of the 2010 Health Care overhaul bill with the final bill.

Tracking Nurses—What You Need to Know

How easy does your state make it to investigate licensed nurses online?

Loan Mods Tracker

How is the $75 billion home mortgage foreclosure prevention program performing?

Stimulus Speed Chart

Just how fast are federal agencies getting stimulus money out the door?

Unemployment Insurance Tracker

Tracking how long state unemployment insurance trust funds will hold up.

Leadership PAC Tracker

How much did your congressman’s Leadership PAC raise, and where did that money go?

Stimulus Contracts Tracker

What companies in your area have received highway stimulus funds?

Video Skimmer: Ron Boline

Use our video skimmer tool to navigate through the testimony of Ronald Boline, on private contractors in Iraq.

Foreign Lobbyist Influence Tracker

Which foreign countries are lobbying the U.S. Congress, and for what purposes? In partnership with the Sunlight Foundation.

Stimulus Progress Bar

How fast and where is stimulus money being spent?

Gitmo Detainee Lawsuits

Search the lawsuits filed by detainees at Guantánamo Bay, and their status.

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.

Download Our Data

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

Use Our Code

Explore Our Work