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.
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.
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.
The Heart Rhythm Society’s annual conference is a marketing bonanza for drug companies and medical device makers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ProPublica, in partnership with PBS “Frontline” and NPR, surveyed almost 70 of the largest coroner and medical examiner systems in the U.S.
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.
A series of technical and programming tutorials on how scraped, parsed, and organized data for “Dollars for Docs.”
Our Dollars for Docs news application lets readers search pharmaceutical company payments to doctors. We’ve written a series of how-to guides explaining how we collected the data.
Our investigation of the financial ties between drug companies and doctors, Dollars for Docs, was sparked by a computational challenge. Several drug companies had been ordered to disclose who they paid to speak and consult on their behalf. But they made the records hard to analyze, seemingly making the data “impossible to download.”
We wanted to change that.
In the previous guide, we describe several methods for turning PDFs into data usable for spreadsheets. However, those only handle PDFs that have actual text embedded within them. When a PDF contains just images of text, as they do in scanned documents, then the problem isn't just how to convert them into neat tabular data, but how to extract any text, period.
When the Consumer Products Safety Commission provided data in October, the agency said it had received fewer than 3,500 reports of tainted drywall. ProPublica and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune compiled a list of addresses from county property appraiser data and records in consolidated lawsuits filed in New Orleans federal court and found nearly twice that number: around 6,900 homes.
Wednesday the Federal Reserve released data on more than 21,000 loans and other deals it made through a dozen emergency programs created during the financial crisis. We’ve combined the Fed’s three programs that loaned directly to banks and other financial firms with the goal of getting them to start lending again.