I’m not quite sure I can summarize everything I learned at this year’s NICAR conference in Baltimore. There’s simply too much.
Here, however, are the highlights that I know I’ll be putting to use in The News Journal newsroom:
Statistics: Our new best friend
I attended a few panels on better using stats in the newsroom (one of which was even called “Enhance your stories with statistics”). We’ve done some rudimentary statistics quite bit, finding means, medians and even modes to explore different various topics.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year, the annual NICAR conference. For the uninitiated, this is the conference where journalists from all over the country (and from many other countries) get together to talk data, open records, technology and all the other wonderful components that make up the world of computer-assisted reporting (i.e. CAR or data journalism).
The past year seemed to fly by, and after looking at the server where I publish a lot of my work, I think I know why 2013 seemed so quick. It was busy.
What didn’t we map?
Looking back, I realized that I spent a lot of time building maps. Some of them were more interesting than others, and they varied quite a bit in complexity. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites:
This post has been updated. Scroll to the bottom for the new information.
We published a story today about the growing population of deer and the state’s warnings that motorists need to be extra mindful of deer in the roadway this time of year.
It just so happens that we have a database of car accidents between 2005 and 2012 that can tell us whether a deer in the roadway caused the accident. It’s a little spotty before 2010, but that still leaves us three years of accident data to play with. In this case, we identified more than 4,700 car accidents caused by deer in the roadway in those three years.
We don’t want to just throw 4,700 points on a map, however, especially when the map is just the size of Delaware. So, this was the perfect opportunity to try something that I think is pretty cool and that I’ve seen a few other news outlets do: turn the state into a hexagonal grid to identify areas with a lot of accidents.
Instead of leaving you in suspense, here’s a link to the map. The rest will walk you through how it was put together.
After months of analysis, reporting and delays, Melissa Nann Burke and I finally saw our analysis of the most dangerous intersections in Delaware grace A1 of The News Journal.
STORY: Delaware’s Dangerous Intersections
INTERACTIVE MAP: Most Dangerous Intersections
Our analysis focused on the 185 intersections that averaged at least 15 crashes per year between 2010 and 2012. I’ll defer to the story for a discussion of the findings, though. Here, I want to focus on how the analysis was done.