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2013 in Visual Storytelling and Data Projects at ProPublica

From faulty flood maps to dangerous overdoses to censored images erased from memory, ProPublica's visual stories and data projects have covered a lot of territory this year. Here we collect them all.


HeartSaver April 22

HeartSaver is an experiment in news game design, built in two days for the April 2013 GEN Editors' Lab Hackathon.

Prescriber Checkup May 11

Medicare’s popular prescription-drug program serves 36 million people and pays for one of every four prescriptions written nationwide. Use this tool to find and compare doctors and other providers in Part D in 2011.

Hazardous Hospital May 17

As part of our ongoing investigation into patient safety, ProPublica reporters Marshall Allen and Olga Pierce produced this interactive story in collaboration with PBS Frontline and Ocupop during a May 11-16 hackathon.

Life and Death in Assisted Living July 29

Joan Boice needed help. Lots of it. Her physician had tallied the damage: Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis. For Joan, an 81-year-old former schoolteacher, simply getting from her couch to the bathroom required the aid of a walker or wheelchair.

How Much Acetaminophen Are You Taking? Sept. 20

Many common over-the-counter drugs contain acetaminophen. Taking more than one at the same time increases your chance of “double-dipping” -- accidentally overdosing. Use this tool to find out which of the drugs in your medicine cabinet contains acetaminophen -- and how much.

Overdose Sept. 20

About 150 Americans a year die by accidentally taking too much acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. The toll does not have to be so high.

ER Wait Watcher Dec. 19

Heading to the emergency room? You may wait a while before a doctor or other treating professional sees you — and the hospital nearest to you might not be the one that sees you the fastest. Use this tool to look up average ER wait times, as reported by hospitals to the federal government, as well as the time it takes to get there in current traffic, as reported by Google.


Government Lends to Rebuild in Flood Zones March 6

At least 10,500 home and business owners whose properties are in FEMA’s new advisory flood zones have been approved for an SBA disaster loan to rebuild from Sandy, according to a ProPublica and WNYC analysis of federal data. These loans are worth at least $766 million. And that figure could be much higher. FEMA has only released some of its preliminary flood map updates for the area.

How Disaster Aid Recipients Voted on Sandy Relief May 21

On January 29, President Obama signed the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which allocates $50.7 billion for Hurricane Sandy aid. Though the measure passed both the Senate and the House, many members of Congress voted no despite their own states receiving millions of dollars in federal disaster assistance.

New Maps and New Plan for New York June 12

On Wednesday, June 12, FEMA released new, preliminary flood insurance maps for New York City. The maps specify how likely areas are to flood, and the minimum elevation that structures must be to avoid higher insurance rates.The new maps, which replace maps that used data from 1983, double the number of structures in flood zones. On June 11, the Bloomberg administration unveiled a $20 billion plan for protecting the city's waterfront.

How Well Did FEMA's Maps Predict Sandy's Flooding Dec. 6

When Superstorm Sandy struck New York and New Jersey last year, the accuracy of FEMA’s flood-risk maps for the area varied widely. In some cases, the data behind the maps dated as far back to the 1970s. The maps help guide development and set flood insurance rates, so many property owners were left unprepared for the flooding.


Where Congress Stands on Guns April 8

In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, Congress has considered new national gun control measures. We present where each member of Congress stands on guns.

Has the Gov’t Lied on Snooping? Let’s Go to the Videotape July 30

Since Edward Snowden leaked a trove of documents detailing the NSA's sweeping surveillance programs, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that part of his congressional testimony in March was "erroneous." But that's not the only questionable comment by administration officials about the programs. Here are six claims by administration officials about NSA surveillance that have been undermined by recent disclosures.

Redaction Classics Aug. 29

"My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government." President Obama took office in 2009 with promises of greater transparency and FOIA improvements across agencies. But after rounds of heavily-redacted NSA documents, the administration’s take on transparency can be rather opaque. We rounded up a few “redaction classics.”

How the NSA’s Claim on Thwarted Terrorist Plots Has Spread Oct. 23

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.


Faces of Internships Sept

ProPublica is traveling around the country to find out what it’s really like to be an intern.

Price of an Internship Dec. 20

Unpaid internships can help young workers advance their career goals. But they can also vary significantly in cost and quality. Explore college internship programs at different schools across the United States — or tell us about your experience interning for academic credit.

How We Calculated Injury Rates for Temp and Non-Temp Workers Dec. 18

Worker’s comp data collected from five states shows temps are far more likely to be injured on the job.

The Long Haul to Work in Immigrant Chicago April 29

In Chicago's Little Village, temp work is handed out by an underworld of labor brokers, called raiteros, who tacitly collaborate with some of the best-known companies and largest temp agencies in the United States. The agencies and host companies get just-in-time labor. But workers are forced to wait long hours and turn over money for rides and paychecks, effectively pushing their pay below the minimum wage.


China’s Memory Hole Nov. 14

ProPublica has been collecting images that have been deleted by censors from Sina Weibo, "China’s Twitter," since May. We gathered a team of people proficient in Mandarin to read and interpret 527 deleted images collected during a two-week window this summer. The images provide a window into the Chinese elite’s self-image and its fears, as well as a lens through which to understand China’s vast system of censorship.


Nonprofit ExplorerMay 9

In April 2013, the IRS released structured data culled from the tax returns of almost 616,000 tax-exempt organizations. Use this database to find organizations and see details like their executive compensation, revenue and expenses, as well as download their tax filings going back as far as 2001.

UptonJuly 22

A web-scraping framework that abstracts away some of the common parts of web scraping so that developers can concentrate on the unique parts of their project.

TranscribableJuly 16

Many people and organizations have asked us how they could build their own web applications to crowdsource caches of documents. Transcribable lets anyone with a DocumentCloud account do crowdsourcing with documents.


The Instagram photo sharing service has no search function, so finding photos based on time or location is tricky. To make it easier, we built QIS, a simple app that lets you see the photos taken at a certain place at a certain time.


If you’ve ever tried to do anything with data provided to you in PDFs, you know how painful this is — you can’t easily copy-and-paste rows of data out of PDF files. Tabula – a collaboration with Knight-Mozilla OpenNews – allows you to extract that data in CSV format, through a simple interface. Go ahead, liberate data tables trapped inside PDF files.

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