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The ProPublica Nerd Blog

ProPublica News Applications Desk Receives Data Journalism Award

The Global Editors Network recognized ProPublica one of eight Data Journalism Awards, announced today in Barcelona.
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Ambulances for Dialysis Patients on Rise

New Jersey leads the nation in average annual Medicare spending on ambulance services per dialysis patient, billing for unusually large numbers of non-emergency ambulance rides, according to a our analysis of Medicare payment data. Several ambulance providers said they’ve heard of providers who sign up patients who don’t need the service — a form of fraud. These charts show spending by state from 2001 to 2011, compared to national averages. Sort by the most-recent year or by state.

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Where Do the Guns Traced in Your State Come From?

Nearly a third of the 155,000 guns officials recovered in 2012 were traced back to sources outside the state they were found in, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Use this tool to see firearms traces in each state that year.

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Treatment Tracker

Medicare recently released, for the first time, details on 2012 payments to individual doctors and other health professionals serving the 46 million seniors and disabled in its Part B program. Part B covers services as varied as office visits, ambulance mileage, lab tests, and the doctor’s fee for open-heart surgery. Use this tool to find and compare providers.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Plants

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FareTrade is a mobile web app that allows users to see how far, on average, items on their grocery list traveled to reach them. This app, built by journalists from ProPublica, WNYC, the Washington Post and National Geographic, is a proof of concept.

National Geographic's Future of Food Hackathon took place last weekend in Washington, D.C., as a part of their “Future of Food” project. ProPublica’s Eric Sagara, Mike Tigas and Sisi Wei were part of a team with WNYC’s Noah Veltman and Tim Wong from The Washington Post. We also received expert help and advice from National Geographic's Dennis Dimick and Maggie Zackowitz.

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School Segregation After Brown

Hundreds of school districts were placed under court order to desegregate following the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Many communities do not know the status of these orders. Use this tool to find out whether your district is or ever was under a desegregation order, and also to look at the levels of integration and segregation in your schools.

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Desegregation Court Records

Search here for desegregation documents we collected during our reporting.

Introducing Landline and Stateline: Two Tools For Quick Vector Maps in your Browser

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We used a variation of Landline in this graphic on the front page of our nursing homes app.

Today we're releasing code to make it easier for newsrooms to produce maps quickly. Landline is an open source JavaScript library for turning GeoJSON data into browser-based SVG maps. It comes with Stateline, which builds on Landline to create U.S. state and county choropleth maps with very little code out-of-the-box.

What Heartbleed Means for Newsrooms

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Heartbleed is a major security vulnerability that affects recent versions of OpenSSL, a popular software library that provides encryption. It is used in a wide variety of software in common use in news organizations. Here’s what newsroom developers can do about it.

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The Department of Labor’s Internships Investigations

In 2010, the Labor Department issued a new fact sheet clarifying when an intern needs to be paid under federal labor law. We collected the case files for all the internship investigations the Labor Department concluded in the three years after issuing new regulations.

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A Deadly Surge in Tower Climber Accidents

Nineteen workers have died in communication tower accidents since 2013, a sharp rise from recent years. OSHA has announced new changes in how it polices the industry, including tracking what cell carrier or tower owner subcontractors had been working for when accidents occurred.

A Conceptual Model for Interactive Databases in News

On Sunday, March 2, Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, the Newseum and Pop Up Archive hosted a one-day conference focused on solving a fairly new problem: How to preserve the new breed of complex interactive projects that are becoming more prevalent in news.

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The Price of an Internship

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.

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Doctor Payments on the Decline

Pharmaceutical company payments to health care professionals dropped between 2011 and 2012 among most of the companies and categories ProPublica tracks, driven in part by increased transparency as well as blockbuster drugs losing patent protection. Research payments, however, have increased among that group.

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Bud’s Story, from the Records

Private Arthur ‘Bud’ Kelder died as a POW in the Philippines during World War II. His parents always hoped that his body would eventually be sent home. But despite clues, the military has never recovered his remains. Here are letters and others documents from his case from 1941 to 1950. The documents and photographs below are either from the National Archive or courtesy of John Eakin.

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Chart: Trauma Hospitals Fail to Screen for Civilian PTSD

A growing body of research shows injured civilians, particularly those injured as a result of violence, are developing PTSD at rates comparable to veterans of war. But many hospitals are doing little to address the problem. We asked 21 top-level trauma centers in cities with the nation’s highest murder rates whether they screen injured patients for signs of PTSD.

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Temp Worker Regulations Around the World

The United States has some of the weakest labor protections for temp workers in the developed world. Here, we map out how countries compare based on data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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How Dark Money Flows Through the Koch Network

An obscure Arizona nonprofit disbursed millions in cash from anonymous donors. Some was spent on the 2012 elections.

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Stasi Social Network Analysis

This hand-drawn graphic, which is undated, was made by the East German secret police and appears to show the social connections the Stasi gleaned about a poet they were spying on.

How to Start Learning to Program

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(Flickr: Rob Boudon)

A journalist I follow on Twitter recently asked me the best way to start to learn how to program. It’s a question I get asked a lot and, although it has been said before, here’s my advice for learning how to program:

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