Journalism posts

March 3, 2014, 10 p.m.



NICAR postmortem

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.

Beyond that, our only real venture into more complicated number ...

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Feb. 26, 2014, 10 p.m.



#NICAR - Day One

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).

This year’s conference is conveniently located in Baltimore and, as in previous years, is off to a strong start. My goal is to leave birdland with a better understanding of statistics and the R programming language. I spend most ...

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Dec. 31, 2013, 10 p.m.



Some 2013 work highlights

Screenshot from Keep the Beat dashboard

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:

  • In the fall, DelDOT was warning drivers about deer on the roadway. Of course, we had to find out where the most deer-related ...
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July 13, 2013, 10 p.m.



Delaware's dangerous intersections

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.


Tools: QGIS, PostgreSQL+PostGIS

We obtained a geo-database of all reported crashes in the state (which ...

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Nov. 6, 2012, 10 p.m.



Locked out of the server on Election Day

Screenshot of the homepage on election night.

Election Day at The News Journal was a pretty solid success.

We used PHP and internet duct tape (iframes) to scrape and display results for big races live on our homepage and results for all races on another landing page.

Unlike the Primary Election, our cron job ran smooth all night and my stress level wasn't through the roof.

The day before, though, was a little more difficult.

We've been having issues with the main LAMP server that we use for interactive content. It's also the server that typically hosts all of our site scrapers and I ...

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