I’ve spent the last few weeks in the U.S. on a Douglas Tweedale Memorial Fellowship with the International Center for Journalists, talking to some American newsrooms about how they approach data-driven journalism. Here’s a bit about what I’ve learned.
The best way to start doing data-driven journalism is simply to start. When you’re just getting started, you really have nothing to lose. With every mistake, you gain experience and knowledge for your personal growth and to improve the quality of the journalism you are practicing.
In the months since revelations about NSA surveillance began, intelligence officials and members of Congress have claimed that the agency’s efforts have thwarted 54 terrorist attacks. But a review of official statements shows the NSA has been inconsistent about how many plots have actually been thwarted and what the role the spying programs played. Despite a lack of evidence, Congress and the media have rushed to repeat the most extreme version of the NSA’s claims.
We launched our Nonprofit Explorer app in May, combining several IRS open data sets to create an easy-to-use tool for journalists and others who want to research nonprofit groups. Today we’re releasing an update to Nonprofit Explorer, with two new features: First, we now include data for organizations that reported finances on Form 990-PF. That means nearly 100,000 private foundations and charitable trusts are now included in the Nonprofit Explorer database.
Many common over-the-counter drugs contain acetaminophen. Taking more than one at the same time increases your chance of “double-dipping”—accidentally overdosing.
Update 9/25 Apple's approved our fixed version of the app and they're now available in the App Store.
For the second year, the ProPublica News Applications desk has a unique opening for a ten-month-long fellowship as part of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews program. The OpenNews fellow sits with us in our newsroom and works on everything our full-time news apps developers do, from daily graphics to larger apps and open source projects.
When building news apps, good software practices don't go out the window; but something else becomes more important — the content and the story.
Since Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing the NSA’s surveillance programs, the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that part of his congressional testimony was “erroneous.” But that’s not the only questionable comment by administration officials.
Today we're announcing a new open-source project that aims to make web scraping simpler. It's named Upton, after labor journalist Upton Sinclair, because the project started as part of our intern investigation.
Upton is a web-scraping framework packaged as a RubyGem. It abstracts away some of the common parts of web scraping so that developers can concentrate on the unique parts of their project.
The recent disclosure of sweeping surveillance by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has prompted a new wave of legal challenges to the U.S. government’s intelligence-gathering programs.
Today we’re releasing a new open source project, which will enable any organization with a DocumentCloud account to do crowdsourcing using documents.
Since we wrapped up our Free the Files project after last year’s U.S. election, many people and organizations have asked us how they could build their own web applications like Free the Files to crowdsource their caches of documents. The full Free the Files codebase is undocumented, a bit messy and isn’t easy to deploy in environments other than our own, so we decided to extract the salient bits into a Rails plugin we’re calling Transcribable.
We as journalists can learn a lot from video games. They can help players explore unfamiliar worlds and experience stories, almost literally, through the eyes of another person. Designed well, video games guide players to feel emotion and conflict, as well as learn the intricacies of complex subjects and systems. They engage users in a highly meaningful, memorable and influential way.
But video games don't require an expensive console system or high-end computer. They can be powered up on our smartphones and on Facebook, and many people who would never call themselves gamers are playing games and getting familiar with how the medium works. And it's not all just escapist fun — there's a community dedicated to exploring how games can be used in education.
As journalists, games can be a great tool for us to use to reach, inform and engage our readers.
ProPublica has created a timeline to appreciate the key moments and often differing aims of the government’s judicial and legislative branches in the ongoing clash over civil rights.
The complaints against Condé Nast, Warner Music and Gawker Media are the latest in a rising tide of lawsuits brought by unpaid interns, many of which are still in progress.
This week’s P5 Resident is Aram Chung.
Aram is currently a dual master’s degree candidate at Columbia University’s joint journalism and computer science program. Aram, who is from Seoul, South Korea, graduated with a degree in mathematical sciences with a minor in industrial design at KAIST in Daejeon, South Korea, where she was also a reporter and editor at the KAIST Herald, the English-language campus monthly newspaper.
Every day I was at the three-day Games For Change conference this week, I learned about new and innovative games built to suit the needs of education and social change. I could have written about almost all of them, but here are four that are especially noteworthy to those of us thinking about building games for news.
Cameras were not present to capture Tiger Woods pulling out of his driving and hitting a fire hydrant, then a tree in 2009, nor to see his wife smash a car window with a golf club and drag Woods out of the vehicle. So to simulate the events of the story, a Taiwanese news service called Next Media Animation created an animated video of the ordeal, complete with shattering glass.
Since then, the company has produced similar videos based on celebrity news and even breaking news. At the time, I thought that these videos might actually catch on, and simulated reality would fill in the gaps when we couldn’t get real video footage. But they didn’t, at least not in the United States.
Yesterday at the Games For Change Festival’s day-two demo session, I saw a game in progress that took animated scenarios to a new level, and it really opened up some ideas for journalism.
If you think about it, positive social impact is a goal that’s similar to ours as journalists. Naturally, as I listened to the diversity of presentations today dedicated to social reach, education, impact and even fighting censorship, I found many lessons that apply to what we’re doing in newsrooms.
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.
Use ProPublica's data -- cleaned, categorized and often created from multiple sources -- in your reporting and research.