Course home page            Syllabus           Resources


Journalism 772 and 472: Computer-Assisted Reporting

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

University of Maryland

Fall 2007


Student presentation Web sites

and Web sites for issues in the news:


Past semesters







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






ESPN:  The Patrick Hughes Story




[contracts, grants (FAADS)]



Example of finding sites:  Mine Safety


Battle for public records in Maryland

“NAACP, ACLU Sue State Police Over Racial Profiling Records”

By Bernie Becker

Capital News Service

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Mastery comes in many forms…..



“Prosecutors Contend That Video Shows Hornsby Taking Kickback”

By Ruben Castaneda

The Washington Post

Wednesday, October 24, 2007; Page B01


Links for work with summary data:


Stories – field trips:





The Washington Post:  Tax refund fraud in D.C.


“Scam Could Total $31 Million; Analysis Suggests Refund Fraud Scheme Was Snowballing”

Dan Keating and Carol D. Leonnig

November 14, 2007, Page A1


Graphic:  “Suspicious Refunds”



The Washington Post - D.C. high school stories


“Will Jonathan Graduate?

His D.C. High School Needs an Overhaul of Attitudes, Academics and Expectations. He Needs Three Credits”

By Lonnae O'Neal Parker

November 10, 2007, Page A1


“For Jonathan Lewis, It's Fourth and Goal

In a System That Has Squandered So Many Chances, He Is on the Verge of Wasting His”

By Lonnae O'Neal Parker

November 12, 2007; Page A01



Brie – sex offender registry sites:












Recent job postings mentioning CAR skills:


Consumer investigative producer

KING 5 Television, Seattle, WA

“… Computer assisted reporting a plus…”


Experienced watchdog journalist

The News-Press, Cape Coral, FL

“…The best applicants have computer assisted reporting skills, understand open records and government laws…”



Hiding in plain sight


New York Times:  Manhole covers, made in India





Graphics and mapping


Hurricane Andrew

Miami Herald mapping project




Boston crime


Minors in possession of alcohol

Lawrence Journal-World and 6 News



How bad is the flooding?



Issues in polling and surveys


 (1).  “20 Questions A Journalist Should Ask About Poll Results,” 3d ed.

By Sheldon R. Gawiser, Ph.D. and G. Evans Witt:


(2). Sample size calculator


(3). “Statistics Every Writer Should Know”

Robert Niles



Zogby poll


(4).  “McCain leads Clinton in new poll, trails Obama”

The Business Journal of Phoenix

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007



(5). “Poll: Clinton Loses to All Top GOP Candidates in Direct Match-Up”

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007

Fox News,2933,313022,00.html


(6).  “Zogby Poll: Obama, Edwards Strong but Clinton Slips Against GOPers

General election match-ups show the New York Senator would lose against every top Republican”

Zogby International

Monday, Nov. 26, 2007


(7). Zogby’s online polling methodology


Gallup poll


(8). “Gallup Poll Shows Clinton Leading All GOP Candidates, Obama Holding Competitive Edge”

Fox News

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007,2933,313224,00.html


(9). “Democratic Candidates Look Good in Latest 2008 Trial Heats

Hold significant leads over Thompson, Romney; slim edges over McCain”


Monday, Nov. 26, 2007


Questions and answer:  issues


(10). “Study Finds Medicare Operators Often Give Bad Information”

Ceci Connolly, The Washington Post

Thursday, May 4, 2006



(11). “Medicare: Communications to Beneficiaries on the Prescription Drug Benefit Could Be Improved”

Government Accountability Office

GAO-06-654, May 3, 2006


Links submitted by Tamara:







Anna – Education


The U.S. Department of Education


Wrightslaw- Education law page


Education Resources Information Center


Searchable database:


The U.S. Department of Education: data on default


Downloadable database:


The World Bank Group/ Education Stats,United%20States




“Closing Costs”

[A series]

By: Eric Eyre and Scott Finn

The Charleston Gazette

 Charleston, WV

August, 2002 – October, 2002




Transportation - Gabe


U.S. Coast Guard – Office of Boating Safety


Federal Aviation Administration – Airport Wildlife Hazard Mitigation


National Transportation Safety Board – Aviation Accident Database


NTSB records from a fatal aviation accident:


Probable Cause, Adopted 11/15/99


Factual Report


Additional data

 (cockpit voice transcript, computer simulations, hearing transcripts, etc.)


Cockpit voice recorder transcript




Minnesota Bridge Collapse



Searchable Database


U.S. Coast Guard – National Response Center



Downloadable Database


U.S. Coast Guard – National Response Center




Deep Creek Lake Rivals Ocean City for Most Recreational Boating Accidents”

By Patricia M. Murret

Capital News Service, Washington, DC

May 1, 2007


Companion Story:


“Boating Police Continue Ocean City Crackdown”

By Patricia M. Murret

Capital News Service, Washington, DC

May 1, 2007




Emily – Education


National Education Association


Education Commission of the States


Education Week Research Center


U.S. Department of Education


Searchable database:


Maryland State Department of Education


Downloadable database:


National Center for Education Statistics




“School discipline: an uneven hand”

By Rebekah Denn

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Friday, March 15, 2002





Raquel – Environment


Chesapeake EcoCheck:


Society of Environmental Journalists:


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:



Searchable Database


TOXNET – Toxicology Data Network



Downloadable Database


International Stormwater BMP Database





“They Won’t Say No: Regulations Fail to Protect Wetlands”

By Craig Pittman and Matthew Waite

The St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.

May 22, 2005




Tamara – Legislative Branch



The Library of Congress - Thomas


Center for Responsive Politics



National Conference of State Legislatures


Searchable Database


Follow the Money



Downloadable Database


FEC 2008 Matching Fund Submissions




“AP Analyzes House Freshmen Fund Raising”

Associated Press

By Jonathan D. Salant

Sept. 20, 2003

(Use class logon and password)



Neall – Real Estate


Housing and Urban Development (HUD)


National Low-Income Housing Coalition


Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae)


Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac)



Downloadable Database:


Directory and List of Realtors and Real Estate Agents


Maryland Zoning Data



Searchable Database:


Real Property Search




The Baltimore Sun's Ground Rent series

December 2006 - ongoing,0,2450236.storygallery?coll=bal



Anath – Executive Branch


Fed World


The Federal Register (publication)


The National Association of Retired Federal Employees




The Center for Public Integrity's States of Disclosure Project


Public Authorities Downloadable Database




"District Dodges Spending Laws"

By Dan Keating and David S. Fallis

The Washington Post

 November 27, 2005



Sara – Nonprofits


IRS Online Version of Publication 78

Charity Navigator

Maryland Charities Database

Foundation Center

Searchable database:


Downloadable database:

IRS - exempt organizations,,id=97186,00.html


"All glitter, little good; telemarketing machine pulls in millions while its investor does time in prison"
By Ronald Campbell
The Orange County Register
Santa Ana, Calif.
March 12, 2006



Kate – Business


Searchable databases


The Securities and Exchange Commission


PR Newswire


Business Wire


Downloadable databases


The United States Department of Labor






“Pleasantville Board of Education President sought Money from Vendors”




Mariana – Real estate


Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development


Housing and Urban Development, Office of Housing


Urban Land Institute


Searchable Database:


Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation

Real Property Data Search


Downloadable Database:


Maryland Department of Planning Generalized Zoning Data





“On Shaky Ground”                                                                                

The Baltimore Sun

Fred Schulte and June Arney

December 10, 2006

[Part 1 of 3 in The Sun's ground-rent series]:,1,5130457.story




Brie – World of the disadvantaged


National Poverty Center


Urban Institute


Child Trends Databank



Searchable and Downloadable Databases


Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General


U.S. Census Bureau




“From Birth, Hardships Begin Assault”

By John Archibald and Jeff Hansen

The Birmingham News

July 28, 2002


Series: “The Black Belt”







Google News






(an example of community-based source)






April - Judicial Branch


Searchable Database:


Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics:


Downloadable Databases:


National Archive of Criminal Justice Data



Some Nuts and Bolts (How do the courts work?):


Federal Judicial Center


U.S. Courts (Administrative Office of U.S. Courts)


Legal Information Institute



Where Can I Find Story Ideas?


National Criminal Justice Reference Service


The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers



Some Subject-Specific Resources:

Understanding Juvenile and Family Court, from the Child Trauma Academy

Information on sexual abuse in correctional facilities, from the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission





“Serving Life, With No Chance of Redemption”

By Adam Liptak

New York Times, October 5, 2005


“How the Survey was Conducted”


Other stories in the series:


“To More Inmates, Life Term Means Dying Behind Bars”

New York Times, October 2, 2005


Jailed for Life After Crimes as Teenagers”

New York Times, October 3, 2005


Video narrated by Adam Liptak:



Michelle – Heath care


The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


The National Institutes of Health


Multi-agencies and health initiatives


Searchable database




Downloadable Database


Nursing Home Compare




"Little Relief on Ward 53;

At Walter Reed, Care for Soldiers Struggling With War's Mental Trauma

Is Undermined by Doctor Shortages and Unfocused Methods"

By Anne Hull and Dana Priest

The Washington Post

June 18, 2007




Kelly – Environment


Searchable Databases


Chesapeake Bay Program



Department of Energy Patents


USDA Agricultural Research Service


Downloadable Database


Smithsonian Environmental Research Center


Other sites:


National Technical Information Service


Environmental Protection Agency


Federal Highway Administration


World Bank


Cross-agency U.S. Government


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration




“Farm Program Pays $1.3 Billion to People Who Don't Farm”

Dan Morgan, Gilbert M. Gaul and Sarah Cohen

The Washington Post Staff

July 2, 2006

Link to story

(requires class logon and password)




Drudge Report




Real Clear Politics


Rethink College Park


Rotten Tomatoes


Google Blogs and






Television News and Ratings:


TV Week




Movie News and Ratings:


Internet Movie Database


Box Office Mojo


Entertainment Industry News and Analysis:




Entertainment Weekly




Entertainment Communities:


Pop Candy




Josh Wolk





Tracy - Law Enforcement


The International Association of Chiefs of Police


The National Tactical Officers Association


National Center for Juvenile Justice


The Youth Law Center (DC)


Searchable Database


Police Complaints


Virginia State Juvenile Services


Downloadable Database


Bureau of Justice



“Issues Still Surround Use of Force Probe”

By Gabriel Baird

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Sunday, January 14,  2007; A6