Course home page            Syllabus           Resources


Journalism 772 and 472: Computer-Assisted Reporting

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

University of Maryland

Spring 2011


Student presentation Web sites

and Web sites for issues in the news:


Past semesters



Sample Format For Submitting Your Links:




The U.S. Department of Transportation


The National Transportation Safety Board


Office of Hazardous Materials Safety


Searchable Database


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Downloadable Database


The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety




“Rails Carry a Growing Risk;

With train traffic through the region surging,

a close call after a recent derailment in San Bernardino raises the question:

Are we ready for a real disaster?”

By Phil Pitchford, Ben Goad, David Danelski and Mark Kawar

The Press-Enterprise, San Bernardino, CA

November 20, 2005




Sites for Class Discussions:



 Data Explored at a Variety of Levels


2008 Presidential Election

New York Times maps

State results, county results, county shifts



Data-Driven Stories on Teacher Certification


“Teachers who fail,”

Chris Davis and Matthew Doig,

Sarasota Herald-Tribune,

 December 12, 2004


"How we did this story"

“State Fights to Prevent Access to Teacher Information”



“D.C. Reduces Number Of Unqualified Teachers;

City Still Trails Neighboring Jurisdictions”

By Bill Turque

The Washington Post

Jan. 8, 2009


“Number of unqualified teachers has risen six-fold under Labour”

By Sarah Harris

Daily Mail

United Kingdon

April 16, 2008


IRE synopses of analyses of teacher certification data in other states:


Illinois: Chicago Sun-Times, 2001:


Virginia: Virginian-Pilot, 2001:


Ohio: Columbus Dispatch, 2000:


New York: New York Daily News, 1999:


Tennessee: Commercial Appeal, 1995:

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



Some Final Items:


Annie Dillard, from The Writing Life


Publick Occurrences, Both Forreign and Domestick, 1690


Thomas Paine, from Common Sense, 1776


Stories all around: The Patrick Hughes Story


Mastery in many forms: Shadow puppets






Databases Used for Recent CNS projects


Package: “Making it in America”


Story: “Vietnamese Refugee Recounts Family's Struggles to Make It in


Map: Refugees and Asylees by County


Chart: Media Use of Immigration Terms


Example of documentation on Web:



Examples of database documentation on the Web


Social Security Death Index

FBI Annual Supplemental Homicide Report - part of the Uniform Crime Reports

IRS tax exempt organizations

consumer product safety commission

Fatality Analysis reporting System



Stories Ideas Hiding in Plain Sight


“New York Manhole Covers, Forged Barefoot in India”

Heather Timmons, New York Times, Nov. 26, 2007



Data Visualization


 Charles Joseph Minard (1781-1870)


Edward Tufte – Principles of Graphical Excellence


Washington Post 1993 Homicide Series


Challenger: Previous Data


Challenger: Data Revised


Dallas Morning News – School Testing Irregularities


Miami Herald Hurricane Andrew Coverage


Post: Census National


Post: Census Regional


Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - BBC Four


Journalism in the Age of Data (See Part II)


Visual display of data: Examples



Historic Television Investigation


Edward R. Murrow

“Harvest of Shame”

CBS News, 1960 




Sites for Class Presentations:


 For-Profit Business - Brooke


Consumer Product Safety Commission


Environmental Protection Agency


PR Newswire: United Business Media


Searchable databases:


Federal Trade Commission


U.S. Securities Exchange Commission


Downloadable database:


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics




“Are Toyota’s Accelerators Safe?:

‘Some Toyota owners suspect a glitch in the electronic throttle control system’ ”

By Brian Ross and produced by Joseph Rhee

ABC News Investigation

Nov. 3, 2009





Health Care – Ashley L.


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)


The Kaiser Family Foundation


The Center for Studying Health System Change


Searchable Database:


The Maryland Board of Physicians


(directory of other state medical boards)


Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)


Downloadable Database:


Colorado Medical Board Licensee Database Request




“When Caregivers Harm:  Problem Nurses Stay on the Job as Patients Suffer,”

Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber, ProPublica, and Maloy Moore, The Los Angeles Times,

July 11, 2009


The Database Compiled by Reporters


Subsequent Stories:


“Schwarzenegger Sweeps Out Nursing Board”

Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein

The Los Angeles Times

July 14, 2009,0,1002564.story


“California Nursing Board’s Executive Officer Resigns”

Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber

The Los Angeles Times

July 15, 2009,0,4544890.story


“Nursing Board Seeks to Triple Enforcement Staff”

Michael Finnegan and Charles Ornstein

The Los Angeles Times

July 28, 2009,0,2806513.story



World of the Disadvantaged – Ashley W.


The Consumer Federation of America


The Institute for Research on Poverty

(also has downloadable databases)


The Journalism Center on Children and Families


Searchable Database:


The US Census Bureau


World Resources Institute


Downloadable Database:


US Department of Homeland Security Yearbook of Immigration Statistics




“Immigrants and the California Economy”

By Ronald Campbell, The Orange County Register

Part I: California’s addiction to immigrant labor (Sept. 8, 2010)

Part 2: ‘Cynical’ policy tacitly encourages illegal immigration (Sept. 14, 2010)

Part 3: Who wins, loses from mass immigration to California? (Sept. 20, 2010)

Part 4: Immigration reform: Touching the third rail of U.S. politics (Sept. 28, 2010).




Business:  Companies & Workplace – Andrew

Morningstar or

They Rule

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

PR Newswire: United Business Media

Searchable Database

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Edgar System:

Downloadable Database:

Small Business Administration


“Part-time board work yielding big-time pay”
Cary Spivak, Journal-Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
June 28, 2010

Database created by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Staff




Nonprofit and religious organizations – Tori


American Institute of Philanthropy—Charity Watchdog Report


National Center for Charitable Statistics




Internal Revenue Service


Searchable databases


Better Business Bureau --Wise Giving Alliance




Pennsylvania Charitable Fundraising Database


Downloadable database


Disciples Mission Fund



“Veteran’s Charities Don’t Make the Grade.”

ABC News

Nov. 9, 2007




Courts – Alison


 Public Access to Court Electronic Records


The Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory


The Judicial Staff Directory


Searchable databases:


Wisconsin Court System Simple Case Search;jsessionid=0E421A03CB57DCEF4B6756D74C0E0B0C.render6


State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer Search


Wisconsin Court System Attorneys’ Professional Discipline Compendium


Maryland Judiciary Case Search


Downloadable database:


Bureau of Justice Statistics




 “Convicted attorneys are still practicing”

By Cary Spivak and Ben Poston


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis.

January 29, 2011


“Lawyers’ clients kept in dark on past issues”

By Cary Spivak and Ben Poston

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis.

February 5, 2011





Justice System (pt. 1) – Jeffrey


Transactional Records Clearing House


Spot Crime mapping

(with information from the University of Maryland Department of Public Safety)


Bureau of Justice Statistics – National Judicial Reporting Program


Searchable Database


Texas Tribune – Texas Prison Inmates


Downloadable Database


DC Crime Incidents in 2010




Dispatch Investigation: Deportation Nation

Day 1: Justice Denied

Day 2: Revolving Door

Day 3: Enormous Costs


By Stephanie Czekalinski

The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus, OH

December 26-28, 2010




Judicial System, part 1 – Katelin


United States Courts


SearchStystems: indexes public records online and links to courthouse databases


ACLU’s National Prison Project


Searchable databases:


Maryland Judiciary Judgments and Liens Search


Downloadable database:


National Corrections Reporting Program: Time Served In State Prison,

By Offense, Release Type, Sex, And Race


Sentences of Federal Offenders




“The Journal: Justice For Sale,”

By Stephen Talbolt, Shelia Kaplan and Bill Moyers

PBS’s Bill Moyers revisits the 1999 FRONTLINE special “Justice for Sale.”

Feb. 19, 2010


Transcript of the original 1999 FRONTLINE special “Justice for Sale.





Environment - Richelle


Environmental Protection Agency


U.S. Geological Survey


Society of Environmental Journalists


Environmental News Network


Downloadable database


Environmental Protection Agency: Airs Data




Searchable Database





“Toxic Waters: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering”

Charles. Duhigg

The New York Times, Sept. 12, 2009





Real Estate – Sean


Fannie Mae






National Association of Realtors


Searchable Database


Department(s) of Real Estate


Downloadable Database


Maryland Department of Planning




‘Huge losses put federal flood insurance plan in the red’

By Thomas Frank

USA Today

August 26, 2009




Law Enforcement – Jessica


Bureau of Labor Statistics


City of Cincinnati Police Manuel


Maryland State Police


Federal Bureau of Investigation


Searchable Databases:


National Sex Offender Database


Bureau of Justice Assistance


Downloadable Database:


State and Local Public Policies in the United States


Hate Crime Statistics (FBI)




“A Few Blocks, 4 Years, 52,000 Police Stops”

By Ray Rivera, Al Baker and Janet Roberts

The New York Times, July 11, 2010




Transportation – Ana


U.S. Department of Transportation


Federal Aviation Administration


National Transportation Safety Board


Regional Airline Association


Aerospace Industries Association of America


Searchable database:


The National Transportation Safety Board


Downloadable Databases:


Federal Aviation Administration

Wildlife Strike Database


Federal Aviation Administration

The National Flight Data Center Airport Facilities Database


Data Dictionary for the National Flight Data Center (NFDC) Airport Facilities Table


Federal Aviation Administration

Passenger Boarding and All Cargo Data for U.S. Airports





“Flying Cheaper”

By Miles O’Brien and Produced by Catherine Rentz

Frontline, PBS

and American University School of Communication’s Investigative Reporting Workshop

Jan. 18, 2011




Education – Kyle


Useful databases:


Collegiate Athletics Funding Database


NCAA Student Data


Inter University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)


National Center for Education Statistics, The Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System


Chronicle of Higher Education





"How student fees boost college sports amid rising budgets"

By Steve Berkowitz,Jodi Upton, Michael McCarthy and Jack Gillum

USA Today






Energy and Utilities – Nicole


U.S. Energy Information Administration


Federal Energy Regulatory Commission


Federal Communications Commission


Searchable Database


Texas Railroad Commission


Downloadable Database


Federal Energy Regulatory Commission


U.S. Energy Regulatory Commission




“Invisible lines: The dangers of natural gas pipelines”

Original reporting by: Bret Shipp

WFAA Channel 8, Dallas, TX


Broadcast on PBS’s Need to Know on December 17, 2010




Real Estate – Dana


National Association of Insurance Commissioners


Bureau of Land Management


Urban Land Institute


Searchable Database


Compare Florida’s Property Insurers (database compiled by reporter)


Downloadable Database


HUD Aggregated USPS Administrative Data on Address Vacancies




“Weak insurers put millions of Floridians at risk”

By Paige St. John

The Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, FL


I. Weak insurers put Floridians at risk (Feb. 28, 2010)


II. How insurers make millions on the side (March 13, 2010)


III. Regulators take a gamble on discount insurance (April 19, 2010)


IV. Property insurers sending billions overseas: Reinsurance firms profit as reserves dwindle (Oct. 24, 2010)


V. Florida insurers rely on dubious storm model (Nov. 14, 2010)


VI. How State Farm cashed in on a crisis  (Dec. 5, 2010)


VII. Florida’s insurance pain set to deepen (Dec. 30, 2010)


Related stories


No hurricanes but bigger insurance bills on the way (Dec. 26, 2010)


More turn to riskier home insurers (Dec. 31, 2010)




Education – Greg


Education Resources Information Center


FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing


Public Agenda for Citizens


Education Commission of the States



Searchable Database


Education Writers Association



Downloadable Database


National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data




“On Shaky Ground”

Reporting: Corey G. Johnson, Erica Perez, Kendall Taggart, Michael Montgomery, Anna Werner, KQED's Krissy Clark

California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting


Part 1: Lax oversight of school construction raises doubts about earthquake safety (4/7/2011)

Part 2: Troubled school inspectors slip through state’s oversight (4/9/2011)

Part 3: Restrictive rules keep schools from state’s seismic repair fund (4/10/2011)




The Disadvantaged – Aimee


The Research Forum at the National Center for Children in Poverty


The Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services


Journalism Center on Children and Families at the University of Maryland


The Migration Policy Institute

Data and resources on U.S. migrants and international migration


The Urban Insitute


Data Ferret for

Tool for analysis and access to all datasets available from the US Census Bureau



Pro-publica Financial Crisis Inquiry Comission

A searchable database of documents and reports on the financial crisis and fringe financing by Pro-Publica


Databank at the World Bank



Searchable Database


The Compressed Mortality database from the Center for Disease Control


Downloadable Database





A Hard Fight For A Political Voice In Biloxi, Miss

By Debbie Elliot

NPR News and All Things Considered

August 23, 2010


Data that accompanies the story: