Syllabus     Resources


Journalism 772 and 472: Computer-Assisted Reporting

Ira Chinoy / Philip Merrill College of Journalism / University of Maryland



Computer-assisted reporting and data-analysis projects from Capital News Service

by University of Maryland journalism students


Capital News Service ( is operated by the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism and staffed by students.  It has print bureaus in Annapolis, Md., and Washington, D.C., with clients that include dozens of newspapers and newsletters (daily, weekly and monthly), wire services, radio and television stations, and online services.  CNS also operates a TV bureau, CNS-TV, with a nightly newscast that reaches hundreds of thousands of homes in suburban Washington, and CNS has an online site for news and features, Maryland Newsline.


The following are links to computer-assisted reporting and data-analysis projects that can be found in the CNS archives (see the note at the bottom of this page for more detail).  Many of these stories also appeared in publications and news outlets that subscribe to the CNS wire service.


New Data Projects from CNS and Maryland Newsline


“State Archives' Budget Struggles Leaves Tattered Treasures,” by Steve Kilar, Capital News Service

April 28, 2011


“Arson, Then Foreclosures, Burn Indian Head Home Owners,” by Steve Kilar, Capital News Service,

April 15, 2011

Detail: “Blacks in Maryland who bought homes between 2004 and 2006 were more than twice as likely to receive subprime rates for their first mortgage as whites with the same income, according to data collected by the federal government and analyzed by Capital News Service.”


 “More Than 1,500 Homicides Grow Cold in Prince George's County,” by Andy Marso, Capital News Service, May 4, 2011


“Maryland on Track to Comply with Federal Juvenile Detention Rules,” by Maggie Clark, Capital News Service, April 29, 2011


Previous stories, by subject:

Ø  Auto accidents

§  Fatalities highest in afternoon rush hour

§  Rural roads:

·        Death rates on rural roads

·        Alcohol and rural driving fatalities and control strategies

·        Death rates in rural counties

§  Driver illness and auto accidents

§  Getting under the data:  Pet deaths mixed with auto fatality data

§  Holiday and Super Bowl drunk driving fatals: Bowl Control

§  Cell phones and car crashes

§  Profile of driving fatalities in 1998

Ø  Aviation:

§   Trends in air-travel delays

Ø  Boating:

§  “Gaps in Data Bring into Question Enforcement of Boating Safety Law” (2008)

§  “Deep Creek Lake Rivals Ocean City for Most Recreational Boating Accidents” (2007)

§  “Boating Police Continue O.C. Crackdown” (2007)

§  Boating safety enforcement

§  Personal watercraft accidents

Ø  Business, work and workplace issues:

§  Unpaid wages

§  Bioscience industry boom in Frederick County

§  Large-scale layoffs by Maryland businesses

§  Workplace safety violations and workplace injuries and deaths

§  Job discrimination cases

§  Patents

·        Trends in patents awarded to Maryland inventors

·         Inventors' ideas and the patent process

§  Small Business Administration loans

·        Baltimore getting fewer SBA loans

·        The role of SBA loans in Prince George’s County

·        Defaults on SBA loans

Ø  Charities:

§  Charities’ fundraising

Ø  Children:

§  Limited child-care facilities in Maryland

§  Infant mortality in Maryland

§  Foster care:

·        Children returned to abusive homes

·        Adoption problems for older foster children

·        Adoption trends for mentally retarded foster children

·        The parental addiction behind foster-care cases

·        Adoption problems for disabled children

Ø  Consumer affairs

Ø  “More Cell Phones Lead to More Complaints”

Ø  Crime, police, judges, lawyers, prisons, guns

§  Prison violence (2007)

§  Race, drugs and mandatory prison sentences (2008)

§  Lawyer discipline (by Anju Kaur – finalist for 2007 IRE award)

§  Sentencing guidelines

§  Young convicts

§  Hate crimes

§  Carjackings:  2005 story / 2004 story / 1998 story and sidebar

§  Inspection of gun dealers

§  Ocean City police data:

·        Ocean City crime trends and crowd control

·        Pedestrian accidents

§  Federal policing grants

§  Reversals of court decisions and the most-reversed judges

§  Crime growth in Western Maryland

Ø  Demographics:

§  Census data show more diversity but not more integration

§  Carpooling down in Maryland

§  Talbot County attracting older workers and retirees

§  Montgomery County residents moving to Talbot County

§  Baltimore residents leaving city for suburbs

Ø  Education:

§  Schools and race

§  Suspensions of 1st-grade, kindergarten and pre-K pupils

§  The other side of a veteran teaching corps:  more turnover ahead

Ø  Elections:

§  Rain doesn’t stop Maryland voters

Ø  Environment:

§  "Oil Leaks and Spills Increase As Storage Tanks Age"

§  Large increase in unauthorized overflows of raw sewage in Maryland

·        Package of stories includes pieces on problems in Prince George’s County and Baltimore

·        Follow-up:  Conservation groups threaten suit over sewage overflows

§  Vehicle emissions

·        SUV emissions

·        cars most prone to fail emissions tests

§  Clean air act enforcement and the science of pollution

§  Freight center contributes to rising rate of hazardous spills in Hagerstown

§  Toxic chemical releases in Maryland: 2001 story / 2002 story / 1996 overview, story on "top industrial polluters", story on pollution in Baltimore

§  Oil and chemical spills in Maryland

§  Crab harvest trends

Ø  Government grants and contracts:

§  Science:  National Science Foundation grants in Maryland

§  Billions in federal contracts to a few Maryland ZIP codes

§  Defense spending up in Maryland

§  Contracts for women-owned firms in Maryland and sidebar

§  “State Loans Allow for More Growth in Baltimore's Trendy Areas”

Ø  Health care:

§  Hospitals:  Hospital stays for mastectomies declining and outpatient alternatives

§  Nursing homes:  State slow to correct most severe problems

§  Malpractice claims

§  Problems with medical devices:  Reports on disposable devices,  infant-warmer systems, and cotton swabs.

Ø  Hunting:

§  Hunting accidents in Maryland and hunting safety training

Ø  Legislators:

§  “Maverick” and “bipartisan” labels vs. voting records (2008)

§  The record of a Congressional maverick (2008)

§  Campaign finance (2008)

Ø  Liquor sales:

§  Liquor stores in low-income neighborhoods

§  Sales to minors

Ø  Politics:

§  Campaign finance:

·        Contributions from students who are children of big donors

·        Contributions to Maryland candidate from outside the state

·        Contributions from special interests

§  Lobbyists:  Disclosure enforcement

§  Voter registration: Movement away from major parties

Ø  Public transportation:

§  Injury rate for Baltimore’s subway

Ø  Safety inspection and enforcement:

§  Amusement-ride safety: Roller coaster injuries

§  Bridges:

·        1995 CNS bridge project

·        2003 report on deteriorating bridges

·        About 150 Maryland Bridges Need Work (2006 story)

§  Dams: State dam inspections and restricted release of public records

§  Elevators:  Elevator inspections and chart

§  Food inspections:  Egg inspections and inspectors

Ø  State government salaries in Maryland:

§  Top state salaries

§  Coaches

§  Lawmaker salaries

§  Salaries list

Ø  Taxes:

§  Maryland tax audits:

·        Most-audited ZIP code and audits by ZIP code

·        Biggest penalties and assessments by ZIP code

§  Sales tax growth in unlikely places

Ø  Transportation

Ø  Train accidents in Maryland

Ø  Hybrid car registrations in Maryland

Ø  Majority of Baltimore cab drivers come from Africa and South Asia



NOTE:  The links above are to computer-assisted reporting and data-analysis stories that can be found in the archives of the CNS print bureau and Maryland Newsline.  Here are links to some specific searches:  “Capital News Service analysis” / “computer analysis” / “computer-assisted” / “CNS analysis” / “analysis by Capital News Service” /  “analysis” / and CNS highlights, by year (for 1990-2003).