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Journalism 772 and 472: Computer-Assisted Reporting

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

University of Maryland

Fall 2008


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 discussion:


Illinois politics,0,4188884.story


Geocoding and mapping

Sample Crime Map


Data obtained by students

Data obtained by students and course alums



Campaign talking points and data


 “About Joe the Plumber, ‘average’ guy”

Patchwork Nation blog

The Christian Science Monitor

Oct. 22, 2008



Privatization vs. the public's right to know


Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:


Page of links


Privatization of public records



Hunting accidents database story


“Data show 13 has become a dangerous age for hunters”

Tulsa World

By Gavin Off, Data Editor



Data in .zip and .pdf format


Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


Medicare Enrollment Reports (zip)


Enforcement Actions (pdf)


Example of pdf conversion software




Office of Management and Budget Earmarks Database


 Databases online

Houston Chronicle – Government employee salaries


Edward Tufte – graphics guru


Charles Joseph Minard’s1869 graphic of Napoleon’s Russia campaign of 1812-1813




Sites for student presentations:


Education – Megan E.


Department of Education


The American Federation of Teachers


Council of Chief State School Officers


Searchable Database


School District Demographics System, from the National Center for Education Statistics


Downloadable Database


U.S. Department of Education Grant Award Database




Series: “Fixing D.C.’s Schools:

“For decades, the District's public schools have resisted scores of reform plans and multiple changes in leadership to remain among the most troubled in the nation.

“The Post examined why the problems have been so difficult to solve.”


Article: “Can D.C. Schools Be Fixed?”

By Dan Keating and V. Dion Haynes

The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

June 10, 2007



Education – Leonard


National Education Writers Association


American Federation of Teachers


Maryland State Department of Education


Chronicle of Higher Education


Searchable Database

Educational Resources Information Center


Downloadable Database

National Center for Education Statistics



“Schools Promote Students Despite Widespread Failure:

1 in 3 flunked core courses in 2007, but 90% advanced” Jack Gillum, Andrea Rivera, George B. Sanchez and Jamar Younger

Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, AZ

May 11, 2008



Kelly – Insurance


Coalition Against Insurance Fraud


Insurance Information Institute


National Insurance Crime Bureau


Maryland Insurance Administration


Searchable Database


National Association of Insurance Commissioners


Downloadable Database


Bureau of Labor Statistics




“A Disability Epidemic Among A Railroad’s Retirees”

The New York Times

Reported by Walt Bogdanich, Andrew W. Lehren, Robert A. McDonald

 and Nicholas Phillips and written by Walt Bogdanich.

September 20, 2008


Extra feature:  YouTube video




Aleksandra – Law Enforcement


Baltimore City Police Department


Police and Law enforcement news


Annotated Code of Maryland


Searchable database


Searchable database associated with discussion story


Downloadable database


Sacramento, Calif., Police Department Downloadable Crime Databases




“Lost Lives: A Decade of Tulsa Homicides”

By Nicole Marshall, Curtis Killman and James Plumlee

The Tulsa World, Tulsa, Okla.

The most recent of the group of stories is from July 13, 2008




Aislinn – Law Enforcement


FBI Law Enforcement Services


Bureau of Justice Statistics


The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies


Searchable Databases


Unidentified Decedent Reporting System


The Missing Persons Database


National Missing and Unidentified Persons System


Downloadable Databases


National Archive of Criminal Justice Data


National Center for Forensic Science




"Blood on the Mountain" and "Lonely, Dark and Deep"

By Wil Haygood

The Washington Post

Washington, D.C.

July 8-9, 2008


Maren – Health Care


American Hospital Association


Maryland’s health care commission


Searchable Databases


National Institute of Health


National Library of Medicine


Downloadable Databases


Medicare’s Downloadable Database


National Practitioner Databank





Patients suffer as care, coverage limits collide

Physicians say insurers intrude on treatment"


By Steve Eder and Julie Mckinnon

Toledo Blade

Toledo, Ohio

Sunday, August 24, 2008





Licensed Professionals – Megan


National Federation of State Medical Boards


Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation


American Medical Association





 Maryland Board of Physicians





National Center for Health Statistics





“Inept Physicians are Rarely Listed as Law Requires”


By Robert Pear

The New York Times

May 29, 2001






Arelis – Health care


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Emergency Care Research Institute


Institute for Safe Medication Practices:


Searchable Database


Florida Community Health Assessment Resource Tool Set (CHARTS):


Downloadable Database:





"Sarah Crider was among 115 patients in the state's care who might have lived."

By Alan Judd and Andy Miller

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jan. 7, 2007



Michael - Executive Branch



The Federal Register—Executive Branch Resources

(search tips: )



Fedworld: Links to Top Government Web Sites


State and Local Government on the Net


Federal Times



Searchable Database


Commander's Emergency Response Program Database  (linked to story)



Downloadable Database


Economic Report of the President: 2008 Report Spreadsheet Tables (Listed by Category)




“Money as a Weapon:

A modest program to put cash in Iraqis' hands stretches its mandate with big projects.”

By Dana Hedgpeth and Sarah Cohen

The Washington Post

August 11, 2008; Page A01



Scott – Legislative Branch


The Center for Public Integrity


The Library of Congress: THOMAS


The National Conference of State Legislatures


The U.S. Government Accountability Office


Searchable Database:


Center for Responsive Politics: Lobby Database


Downloadable Database:


The Federal Election Commission




“$4.5 Million for a Boat That Nobody Wanted”

By David Heath and Hal Bernton

Seattle Times, October 15, 2007



Priya - Executive Branch


The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Freedom of Information Resources A project of OMB Watch


Maryland Department of Budget and Management


Searchable Database


Office of Management and Budget Earmarks Database


Downloadable Database


Federal Election Commission Campaign Finance Data




Series: “Careless Detention: Medical Care in Immigrant Prisons”


Article: “System of Neglect”

“As Tighter Immigration Policies Strain Federal Agencies, The Detainees in Their Care Often Pay a Heavy Cost”

By Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein

The Washington Post

May 11, 2008




Erika -Transportation


 Federal Aviation Administration


RITA: Bureau of Transportation Statistics


United States Coast Guard


Searchable Databases


United States Coast Guard (links to)


RITA: Bureau of Transportation Statistics


National Conference of State Legislators



Downloadable Databases


Federal Aviation Administration



RITA: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Energy Information Administration




Part One:

“Late inspections of bridges put travelers at risk

At least 17,000 spans didn't get a two-year checkup, finds”


Part Two:

“Feds let states delay inspections of bad bridges

Loophole allows giving infrequent checkups to spans in poor condition”


By Bill Dedman


Updated January 30, 2008


Dedman presentation:




Melissa – Transportation


American Association of Airport Executives


U.S. Government Accountability Office


U.S. Department of Transportation


Searchable database:


Landings, Aviation Links


Downloadable database:


Aerospace Industries Association of America




“Efforts to Repair Aging System Compound Metro’s Problems”

By Lyndsey Layton and Jo Becker

The Washington Post

June 5 2005



Romney - The Disadvantaged


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Journalism Center on Children & Families


Welfare Information


Maryland Social Services Administration


Downloadable Database


All Subsidized HUD homes database


Searchable & Downloadable Database


IRS State by State listing of all non-profits,,id=97186,00.html




“Reform Wastes Millions, Fails Mentally Ill”

The News & Observer

Reported by Pat Stith, David Raynor, Lynn Bonner, Michael Biesecker, and Brooke Cain

February 24, 2008





Steven – Environment


Envirofacts Data Warehouse


The National Association of Attorneys General


EPA Drinking Water site


Society of Environmental Journalists


Searchable Database:


Toxic Relase Inventory


Downloadable Database





Renegade Riders


Star Tribune staff writers

Last update: September 19, 2008


Dylan – Charities and Nonprofits


BBB Wise Giving Allowance


Guide Star


How to Read the IRS Form 990 – Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York


Searchable Databases:


Charity Navigator


Maryland Charity Search


Downloadable Database:


IRS state-by-state listing of non-profits,,id=97186,00.html



“Poverty Peddlers”

By: Scott Hiassen and Jason Grotto

The Miami Herald

Sept. 30, 2007





Leila – Business


Ten K Wizard


U.S. Department of Labor


Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service


Federal Election Commission


Searchable Database:


Occupational Safety & Health Administration


Downloadable Database:


U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission




"The Cruelest Cuts"

The Charlotte Observer

By Ames Alexander, Franco Ordoñez, Kerry Hall and Peter St. Onge

Sept. 30, 2008





Kevin – Judicial branch


Brennan Center for Justice


National Center for State Courts


United States Department of Justice


American Bar Association


Maryland State Courts


National Law Journal


Legal Times


Searchable Database


Maryland Judiciary Case Search


Downloadable Database


State Court Organization 2004




“Unequal Justice: Murderers on Probation”

By Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin

Dallas Morning News

November 10-14, 2007


Other Stories


“Hilton will do more time than most, analysis finds”

by Jack Leonard and Doug Smith

Los Angeles Times

June 14, 2007


“Outrage leads to joyful reunion: Brown embraces freedom as public campaign throws open prison doors after 17 years”

By Brooks Egerton

Dallas Morning News

March 16, 2007


“Agency Let Slide Parole Failures: 

Documents confirm Times Union report that felons remained free despite violations;

instead of disciplining those responsible, investigators searched for leaks ”

By Brendan J. Lyons

Albany Times Union

April 22, 2007


“On Their Honor:

Wisconsin judges frequently try cases involving companies in which they’ve invested.

Who decides if they have a financial conflict? The judges.”

by Geoff Davidian

Milwaukee Magazine

January 27, 2007




Ben S. – The World of the Disadvantaged


Department of Health and Human Services


Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families


Office of Inspector General - Baltimore


Urban Institute


Searchable Database


Guidestar Searchable Database of Non-profit Organizations


Downloadable Database


List of Excluded Individuals/Entities




"Drug war enforcement hits minorities hardest; Drug arrests reveal racial gap"

By Darnell Little

Chicago Tribune

Chicago, Il.

July 22, 2007




Ben M. – Judicial System


U.S. Department of Justice


Professional Bail Agents of the United States


American Bar Association


Searchable Databases:


Federal Bureau of Prisons: Inmate Locator


Downloadable Databases:


Bureau of Justice Statistics Spreadsheets




"Speed Kills; Courts Shrug"

By Pat Stith, Mandy Locke and David Raynor

Raleigh News & Observer

Raleigh, N.C.

May 13, 2007





Natasha – Real Estate




“Dealmaker Elevated Flip to an Art”

By: Michael Braga

May 4, 2008


“It's Bankruptcy for Banks Big Player”

By: Michael Braga, November 24, 2008



U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


HUD, Office of Housing


American Society of Home Inspectors


Searchable Databases


Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation

Real Property Data Search

Site owned by the National Association of Realtors

Real Estate Listings


Downloadable Database


U.S. Census Bureau

Housing Units - The Population Estimates Program publishes estimates of housing units for the U.S., states, and counties


New Residential Sales


New Residential Construction


Existing Homes Sales




Hannah – International


United Nations


World Trade Organization


International Monetary Fund


World Bank


Searchable Database


World Health Organization


Downloadable Database


World Health Organization




"Choking on Growth"

The New York Times

Reported by Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley

Aug. 26, 2007




Shaleem – Financial Institutions


American Bankers Association


Securities Investor Protection Program


Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac)


Searchable Database


Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation


Office of Thrift Supervision


Downloadable Database


The Federal Reserve Board


Office of Financial Regulation




“Borrowers Betrayed”

By Jack Dolan, Rob Barry and Matthew Haggman

The Miami Herald

Miami, FL

July 20, 2008


Interesting Stories:


“Borrower Beware”

By Ann Hardie, Alan Judd and Carrie Teegardin

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Jan 30-Feb 2, 2000


“Swimming with Sharks:

Subprime lenders put the bite on Baltimore’s poorest homeowners.”

By Molly Rath

Baltimore City Paper

Baltimore, MD

March 29, 2000