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Al Shaw

News Applications Developer

Photo of Al Shaw

Al Shaw is a news applications developer at ProPublica. Equal parts designer, developer and reporter, he uses data and interactive graphics to cover environmental issues, natural disasters and politics. A year before Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Shaw was part of a team that produced “Hell and High Water,” which warned of the region's vulnerability to coastal storms. The project won a Peabody Award in 2017. Shaw's project, “Losing Ground,” about the century-long erosion of Louisiana's coast won a Gold Medal from the Society for News Design. His interactive maps surrounding FEMA's response to Hurricane Sandy were honored with the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi award. Before joining ProPublica, Shaw was a designer/developer at the political news website Talking Points Memo.

Campaign Spending Shows Political Ties, Self-Dealing

So far, top super PACs and presidential candidates have spent more than $306 million in ways that hint at potential coordination. In some cases, this could violate FEC rules. 

A Tangled Web: Who’s Making Money From All This Campaign Spending?

Many have been detailing the vast sums being raised by the presidential candidates and the super PACs supporting them. But where are all those millions being spent?

Untangling a Web of FEC Data

Our Tangled Web graphic shows the 200 biggest recipients of expenditure money from the five major presidential campaigns (Gingrich, Obama, Paul, Romney and Santorum), as well as from major super PACs, from around the middle of 2011 through February, 2012.

Message Machine: Reverse Engineering an Obama Email Campaign

Campaigns are increasingly tailoring their messages -- and their funding requests -- using massive databases of personal information about potential voters. Here are six variations of a Thursday night message from the Obama campaign, based on emails submitted by 190 recipients across the country.

Showing You the Money (Faster)

We pitched in on some new features in the New York Times' Campaign Finance API and its Ruby wrapper, CampaignCash.

With Spotlight on Super PAC Dollars, Nonprofits Escape Scrutiny

Super PAC filings for 2011 reveal few surprises in identifying contributors: Unions give to Democrats, while businesses back Republicans. Much less is known about the social-welfare nonprofits that might play a big role in the election.

PAC Track: Now Includes Contributions

What and where are the super PACs spending?

Timeline: A History of Pardons

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.

ALEC-Related Contributions

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

How You Can Use Our ‘Opportunity Gap’ Project in Your Reporting

Here’s our guide on how to use our project on educational opportunities, including instructions on how to share your findings from within the app.

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

Embracing 'behavior design'—coupled with our preference for keeping our apps light on database writes—spurred us to integrate Facebook for our news app 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.

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.

Timeline: How One Blast Affected Five Soldiers

TimelineSetter: A New Way to Display Timelines on the Web

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.

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.

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