Journalism in the Public Interest


The ProPublica Nerd Blog

How to Make a News App in Two Days, as Told by Six People Who Tried It for the First Time


The 2014 Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Fellows hacking on the Tire Tracker news app. (Dan Sinker/Knight-Mozilla OpenNews)

How to Send Us Files More Securely


Journalists: Send ProPublica Your Redaction Classics

The Obama administration’s take on transparency can be rather opaque. Send us your most memorable FOIA documents for our Redaction Classics collection.

How We Made the 3-D New York City Flood Map


We used WebGL to create the 3-D map of FEMA's new flood zones.

Earlier this year we published a story and an interactive graphic about the evolving Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps in New York City in the year after Hurricane Sandy.

FEMA had advisory maps in the works when Sandy hit. The agency rushed them out in the days afterward as a first sketch for those looking to rebuild.

Our story found that while the maps continued to be revised over the course of a year, homeowners had little guidance on how much their home’s value — as well as its required elevation — were changing as they struggled to rebuild after the storm. To complicate matters, Congress had recently passed legislation which threatened to dramatically raise flood insurance premiums for those remapped into high-risk flood zones.

Calculating ‘The Price of an Internship’

Today we launched an interactive news application called “The Price of an Internship.” We hope it will become a comprehensive source for data on internships programs at American universities, built by individual volunteers as well as journalists working in student newsrooms.


ER Wait Watcher

Which emergency room will see you the fastest? We’ve got a handy guide for impatient outpatients.

How We Calculated Injury Rates for Temp and Non-Temp Workers

An analysis of data from worker’s compensation claims in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon over a five-year period found that the incidence of temporary worker workplace injuries was between 36 percent and 72 percent higher than that for non-temporary workers.

When workers were grouped by occupation, this gap widened significantly for workers in certain blue-collar, more-dangerous occupations and narrowed for workers in less dangerous occupations.

Temporary workers also are disproportionately clustered in high-risk occupations, our research found. Temporary workers were 68 percent more likely than non-temporary workers to be working in the 20 percent of occupations with the highest injury rate as measured by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why Develop in the Newsroom?

If you’re a software developer looking to make more of a social impact with your talents, there are plenty of exciting opportunities for you to break into the field of journalism! But what’s it like?

Writing software in a journalistic environment is still pretty new so different newsrooms do it differently, but we’d like to share with you what it’s like to be a news applications developer at ProPublica, why we all love the work we do here, and why we think newsrooms are an exciting place to be right now.

Here’s our list of 10 reasons why programmers should join us and develop for the newsroom:


How Well Did FEMA’s Maps Predict Sandy’s Flooding?

When Superstorm Sandy struck New York and New Jersey last year, the accuracy of FEMA’s flood-risk maps for the area, used to help guide development and set flood insurance rates, varied widely. In some cases, the data behind the maps dated as far back to the 1970s. Click a county below to see more about FEMA’s data for that county.

How We Analyzed FEMA’s Risk Maps

Today we published a story and interactive news application revealing why the flood risk maps in effect across New York and New Jersey predicted Sandy’s flooding so inaccurately. Instead of the latest technology available, which would have painted a far more accurate picture of the risks for homeowners and flood planners, FEMA’s maps relied on a patchwork of technologies, some dating to the 1980s.


China’s Memory Hole: The Images Erased From Sina Weibo

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.

Data-Driven Journalism’s Secrets


Hassel Fallas is a data journalist at La Nación in Costa Rica. She’s visiting ProPublica as a 2013 Douglas Tweedale Fellow from the International Center for Journalists and as ProPublica’s October 2013 P5 Resident. (Krista Kjellman Schmidt/ProPublica)

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.

Meet our New OpenNews Fellow


Brian Jacobs, ProPublica's 2014 OpenNews Fellow (Photo courtesy OpenNews)

Knight-Mozilla OpenNews announced five new fellows for 2014 today at the Mozilla Festival in London.

We’re excited to announce that Brian Jacobs will be ProPublica’s OpenNews fellow in 2014.


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

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.

Announcing the Nonprofit Explorer API

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.


How Much Acetaminophen Are You Taking?

Many common over-the-counter drugs contain acetaminophen. Taking more than one at the same time increases your chance of “double-dipping”—accidentally overdosing.

Technical Difficulties on iPhone and iPad App

Update 9/25 Apple's approved our fixed version of the app and they're now available in the App Store.

Is the U.S. Government Behind “Torsploit”?


Is an exploit targeting Tor users sending identifying information to a server owned by the U.S. Government? (Image: Flickr)

There’s a lot of chatter on the Internet about a Firefox security vulnerability that has been used to target users of the Tor Browser Bundle, the most commonly-used way to use the Tor anonymity network. Malware that took advantage of this vulnerability was recently discovered on several prominent “hidden services” — websites accessible only through a secure, anonymous Tor connection. The exploit has been given two nicknames: “Magneto,” a phrase that appears inside the exploit’s JavaScript code (a commonly-used method to name viruses and exploits) and “Torsploit,” a portmanteau of “Tor” and “exploit.”

Why You Should Be our 2014 OpenNews Fellow (and Join the Epic Team of Awesome)

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.

Where Do “Good” Software Practices Fit Into News Applications


How should we think about "good" software practices in the newsroom? (Image: Flickr)

When building news apps, good software practices don't go out the window; but something else becomes more important — the content and the story.

The News Apps Team

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