ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Cancel

The ProPublica Nerd Blog

Announcing the ProPublica News Apps Fellowship

The ProPublica News Apps desk is looking for a smart, technically-savvy journalist to join our team for a pilot project we’re calling a News Applications Fellowship.

In this special internship, which is paid and will run until the end of the year, you’ll help us test a hypothesis: Can a smart, technical journalist with excellent and proven skills in other nerdy newsroom disciplines like graphics and CAR become a news app developer?

Rep. Jerry McNerney’s District

Democrats recognized that they could protect Jerry McNerney from being redistricted out of office by the Citizen’s Redistricting Commission.

Adaptive Design, Fixed Widths and Tablets

If you’re trying to make your fixed-width site adaptive, there are some things you need to know about the viewport tag.

Explore Sources: A New Feature to “Show Our Work”

We’re debuting a new feature today as part of Marshall Allen’s story about one woman’s fight with a Texas hospital to find out how her husband died.

In the course of reporting the piece, Marshall made over 500 annotations in 64 documents he uploaded to DocumentCloud, many of which were sources of facts in his story. He told us about this wealth of metadata, and wanted a way to present it to readers. We agreed that we didn’t want to show them in a separate graphic or interactive feature, but rather sprinkled throughout the story itself.

So we made a special feature we’re calling Explore Sources. To try it, click the “ON” button next to “Explore Sources” at the beginning of the article. Words and phrases throughout the piece will turn yellow. Click these yellow highlights to see the portion of the source document from which Marshall got that fact. Once the annotation is visible, click the document image inside of the popup to go to the full document in DocumentCloud, or anywhere else to dismiss it.

How We Made ProPublica.org Look Better on Your Smartphone

Today we're launching a new look for people reading ProPublica on smartphones.

In order to make our site more welcoming for the increasing number of you who read us on your smartphones, we've redesigned and re-engineered the site so that people on small screens will automatically see a version of the site optimized to fit them. If you're on a smartphone, you've already seen the new look.

You don’t need any app or special URL to see it. Just go to www.propublica.org. If you’re on your phone, you'll see our optimized site. Readers of our website using desktop browsers shouldn't notice a difference.

Introducing DocDiver

Today we’re launching a new feature that lets readers work alongside ProPublica reporters — and each other — to identify key bits of information in documents, and to share what they’ve found. We call it DocDiver.

Fair Districts Mass Proposals

Fair Districts Mass says it is an independent group seeking better representation for minorities, but it has proposed maps that call its motives into question.

Florida’s 3rd Congressional District

Congresswoman Corrine Brown, an African-American Democrat from Florida, represents one of the most irregularly shaped districts in the nation.

Dollars for Docs

Has Your Doctor Received Drug Company Money?

ALEC-Related Contributions

Use this database to find campaign contributions from some ALEC-affiliated groups to some ALEC-member state legislators.

Facebook for News Apps: How We Harnessed the Social Network for ‘The Opportunity Gap’

Last week we published The Opportunity Gap, a news application that lets readers find out how equally their state provides poor and wealthier schools access to advanced classes that researchers say will help students later in life.

It features a host of technologies we’re using for the first time, and which we anticipate will be part of many of our news apps in the future. These include a new JavaScript-based “workspace” approach to placing, sorting and removing multiple entities on a single page. We also built our own map server, which we’ll have lots to say about later this summer.

We designed the app so it was oriented behaviorally, and not just hierarchically. That is, rather than simply showing users a collection of items (as so many interactive databases do), we wanted to encourage people to take the conversations they were already having about their schools and communities, and extend that behavior onto our app. We owe a debt to Nick Disabato, whose SXSW panel got us thinking about this concept. We were also inspired by The New York Times’ Oscars app, which uses Facebook to let readers create, share and compare their ballots with friends, and to let them reproduce real-world behavior — competing on Oscar predictions — within a news app.

This emphasis on encouraging behavior — coupled with our preference for keeping our apps light on database writes — spurred us to integrate Facebook in a deeper way than we’ve done before.

The Opportunity Gap

ProPublica analyzed new data from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights along with other federal education data to examine whether states provide students equal access.

How the Heart Rhythm Society Sells Access

The Heart Rhythm Society’s annual conference is a marketing bonanza for drug companies and medical device makers.

How Much Money Do Groups Receive From Industry?

In a response to a request from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, 33 professional associations and health advocacy groups listed their payments from the pharmaceutical, medical device and insurance industries. They also detailed the relationships that the groups’ executives and board members had with the same companies.

TimelineSetter: Easy Timelines From Spreadsheets, Now Open to All

Last week we announced TimelineSetter, our new tool for creating beautiful interactive HTML timelines. Today, after a short private beta with some of our fellow news application developers, we’re opening the code to everyone.

TimelineSetter: A New Way to Display Timelines on the Web

The timeline is a very useful way to visualize sequences of events, and they’re especially useful to orient readers within the complex investigative stories we do at ProPublica. But they’re not very easy to make. As far as we know, there are no good open source frameworks that web developers can use to generate timelines quickly without losing design flexibility. So we made our own, which is debuting today.

By way of background, our most recent timeline was part of our story on disability discharges last month. We found some interesting parallels between what the Education Department was doing to reform the program and one borrower’s attempt to navigate the bureaucracy over the same five-year period. To visualize these parallel paths, we designed a timeline that showed both series events on one bar, but differentiated by color and space.

FOIA b(3) Exemptions

Information about watermelon handlers, avocado importers and caves are some of the categories of information that have been withheld from federal Freedom of Information Act requesters using sections of laws that are otherwise unrelated to disclosure. There are hundreds of such laws, according to data compiled by the Sunshine in Government Initiative. They fall under number three—known as b(3)—of the nine exemptions. Use our database to see how extensively agencies use b(3) exemptions.

Autopsies in the U.S.A.

ProPublica, in partnership with PBS “Frontline” and NPR, surveyed almost 70 of the largest coroner and medical examiner systems in the U.S.

FCIC Document Dive

When the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission released its final report on the causes of the financial crisis, it released an extensive document archive. We’ve tried to make searching through it a bit easier. Use the form below to search for people, places, or organizations mentioned in the documents.

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