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Journalism 772 and 472: Computer-Assisted Reporting

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

University of Maryland

Spring 2012


Student presentation websites

& websites 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:



Recent 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



High Steel







Dead voters, 2012:


“S.C. Officials to Investigate 900 Dead 'Voters':

The Attorney General's Office has requested a formal probe into possible voter fraud”

By Jeff Brush, Easley Patch, Jan. 12, 2012

(link provided by Carl)



“Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient:

Evidence That America’s Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade”

The Pew Center on the States

(link provided by Jason)

Details from this national study include:

More than 1.8 million dead people registered to vote.

About 2.75 million voters registered in more than one state

About 24 million registrations are “no longer valid” or “significantly inaccurate”


Interesting data mapping




Corruption and Transparency


State Integrity Investigation













Visual display of data for news


Examples – historical and current, image and video


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)


Data Explored at a Variety of Levels:

2008 Presidential Election

New York Times maps

State results, county results, county shifts





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


“For Their Own Good”



Sites for Class Presentations:



Anna – Environment


Environmental Protection Agency


Society of Environmental Journalists


National Audubon Society



Searchable Database


Toxics Release Inventory Database



Downloadable Database


EPA Drinking Water Data



“TOO YOUNG TO DIE” Three-part series


Babies born in neighborhoods afflicted by pollution -- from smog to pesticides -- are more likely to die before their first birthday.”


By Reynolds Holding, Erin McCormick

San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, Calif.

October 4, 2004






Caitlin – Health Care


American Medical Writers Association


National Institutes of Health


The Association of Health Care Journalists


Searchable database


The Data Bank, National Practitioner Healthcare Integrity and Protection


Downloadable database


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention




“Prime Healthcare's treatment of rare ailments stands out”

California Watch, founded by the Center for Investigative Reporting

By Christina Jewett and Stephen K. Doig

October 14, 2011




Carl – Transportation:




Federal Transit Authority


WMATA Audit Reports


Searchable database:


National Transportation Safety Board Accident Reports


Downloadable database:


National Transit Database




"D.C. transit agency often slow to act on safety recommendations."

By Joe Stephens and Lena H. Sun

The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

December 26, 2009.



Danielle – The Disadvantaged


World Bank Group


Health and Human Services


The Journalism Center on Children and Families


Searchable Database


American Fact Finder, US Census Bureau


Downloadable Database



(Database at





"Methadone and the Politics of Pain"

Michael J Berens and Ken Armstrong

The Seattle Times, Seattle, WA

December 12, 2011





Kelsey – Education


U.S. Department of Education


Education Writers Association


Center on Education Policy



Searchable Database


Elementary/Secondary Information System



Downloadable Databases


State Dropout and Completion Data:


Federal Cost of School Food Program Data:





“State ignores teacher licensing violations”

Star Tribune


By Corey Mitchell and Jane Friedmann

April 10, 2011






Chelsea -- Higher Education


U.S. Department of Education


National Center for Education Statistics


The Chronicle of Higher Education


National Education Writers Association



Searchable Database


National Center for Education Statistics



National Education Writers Association



Downloadable Database


U.S Department of Education




Government Vastly Undercounts Defaults

By Kelly Field

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington, D.C.

July 11, 2010



David – Executive Branch




Presidential Pardons: Shades of Mercy

Part 1 of 2: Presidential Pardons Heavily Favor Whites

By Dafna Linzer and Jennifer LaFleur ProPublica

co-published with The Washington Post

Dec. 4, 2011



Searchable databases


The Federal Register


The Federal Election Commission


Downloadable database:

The Federal Election Commission


State and Local Government on the Net


Federal Reserve Economic Data




Clara – Law Enforcement (Part A)


Police Assessment Resource Center


Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics


National Institute of Justice


Searchable Database


U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool


Downloadable Database


Bureau of Justice Statistics




“Deadly Force: When Las Vegas Police Shoot, and Kill,”

By Lawrence Mower, Alan Maimon and Brian Haynes

Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas, NV

November 27-December 1, 2011




Sophie – Law Enforcement (Part B)


Baltimore City Police Department



The Federal Bureau of Investigation


The Office of Police Complaints, District of Columbia


The State’s Attorney of Baltimore City


Searchable databases:


Maryland Judiciary Case Search


Baltimore City Police Department: Crime Map





"City Rape Statistics, Investigations Draw Concern"

by Justin Fenton

Baltimore Sun.

June 27, 2010,0,5338041.story





Lyndsey – Judicial System (Part A)




Judicial Staff Directory (Congressional Quarterly)


National Center for State Courts


Biographical Database of Federal Judges- Federal Judicial Center


Searchable Database


Maryland Judiciary Case Search


Downloadable Database


The Supreme Court Database




“Aging Justice”

FOX 5, Washington DC

By Tisha Thompson

March 2009




Tosin – Judicial System (Part B)


National Center for State Courts


Maryland Judiciary Circuit Court Locations


National Institute of Justice


Searchable Database


National Center for State Courts Budget Resource Center


Downloadable Database


Bureau of Justice Statistics Employment and Expenditure




"Many Courts making financial decisions in private, despite state law that demands openness and public hearings"

By Matt Davis

The Lens Focusing on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast

June 21, 2011





Kelsi - Charities and Foundations


National Center for Charitable Statistics


The Foundation Center


Searchable Database


Foundation Center 990 finder


Md. Office of the Secretary of State




Downloadable Database


All tax-exempt organizations registered with the IRS




“Some Officers of Charities Steer Assets to Themselves”

By the Globe Spotlight Team:

Reporters Beth Healy, Francie Latour, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Michael Rezendes,

and editor Walter V. Robinson

The Globe, Boston, MA

October 9, 2003





Jason – Energy and Utilities




Pepco: A Washington Post Analysis

By Joe Stephens and Mary Pat Flaherty

Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, December 5, 2010



Federal Regulators and Sources of Info


National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners


United States Energy Information Administration


EIA Summary Data for Excel Download


Federal Energy Regulatory Commission


Local Regulators


Maryland Public Service Commission


D.C. Public Service Commission


Local Advocate Groups


Maryland Office of People’s Counsel


D.C. Office of People’s Counsel




Center for Responsive Politics Deregulation Overview


Center for Responsive Politics Contributions Database




Aisha – Business


U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission


Morningstar Document Research

SEC Filing:



Reynolds Center for Business Journalism


Searchable Database


Occupational Health and Safety Administration:


U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:


Downloadable Database


United States Census Bureau




“The Cruelest Cuts: The human cost of bringing poultry to your table”

By Kerry Hall, Ames Alexander, and Franco Ordonez

The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, North Carolina

Feb. 10, 2008



Maria Pia – Financial Institutions


National Credit Union Administration


The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency


Conference of State Banks Supervisor


Federal Housing Finance Agency


Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council



Searchable Database


FFIEC Central Data Repository


FDIC Federal Deposit Insurance Cor. Failed Financial Institution Contact Search


Downloadable Database





On-going Investigation: Foreclosure Crisis Banks and Government Fail Homeowners

“The Great American Foreclosure Story:

The Struggle for Justice and a Place to Call Home”

by Paul Kiel

ProPublica, New York, NY

April 10, 2012, 3 a.m.








Jack – Real Estate


Fannie Mae


U.S Department Housing and Urban Development




Searchable Database


Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation


Downloadable Database


Federal Housing Finance Agency- FHFA




“Weak Insurers Put Millions of Floridians at Risk” (Series)

By Paige St. John

Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sunday, March 14, 2010