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Journalism 772 and 472: Computer-Assisted Reporting

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

University of Maryland

Spring 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



Student sites:



Nina – Education


Education Commission of the States


Council of Chief State School Officers


Council for Exceptional Children


Searchable Database


The Education Trust


Downloadable Database


U.S. Department of Education


Database of Highly Qualified Teachers





“Teachers who fail”

By Chris Davis and Matthew Doig

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, FL

December 12, 2004


"How we did this story"


“State Fights to Prevent Access to Teacher Information”



Education – Chris


World Bank – EdStats,,menuPK:3232818~pagePK:64168427~piPK:64168435~theSitePK:3232764,00.html


US Census Data on Educational


United States Student Association



Searchable databases:


College Navigator: University information organized by institution


Baltimore Sun: Elementary School Test Results,0,1072194.formprofile



Downloadable database:


Measuring Up: Comparison of Higher Education ratings in US states




Series on cheating on the schools

Joshua Benton and Holly K. Hacker

Dallas Morning News


Links to the three-part series, published June 3-5, 2007:


“Analysis shows TAKS cheating rampant”


“Cheating's off the charts at charter schools”


“Efforts to stop TAKS cheating often fall short”


Interactive feature


Take a “test” run!




Dan – Environment


Department of Health and Human Services

– Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry


(Frequently Asked Questions about Contaminants Found at Hazardous Waste Sites)


American Lung Association – Air Quality


AIRNow (cross-agency U.S. government Web site)


Searchable Database:

Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission – Air Emission Event Report Database


Downloadable Database:

Environmental Protection Agency

Technology Transfer Network – Air Quality System (AQS) Data Mart





“In Harm’s Way, Part I: Troubled Neighbors”

by Dina Cappiello and Lise Olsen (computer-assisted reporting)

Houston Chronicle, Houston, Texas

January 16, 2005


Series: “In Harm’s Way”

by Dina Cappiello,

Lise Olsen (computer-assisted reporting),

Dan Feldstein, Leigh Hopper, and David Ivanovich (additional reporting)

Houston Chronicle, Houston, Texas

January 16-20, 2005


“How We Did It”


Criticism and Industry Responses to the Series




David – Transportation


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)


Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA)


Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)


U.S. Coast Guard: Boating Safety


Searchable Database:


Newark Advocate: 2006-07 Licking County, Ohio Traffic Crash Database


Downloadable Database:


Ohio Department of Public Safety: Downloadable Crash Extracts


U.S. DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA):

Incident Summaries




“Special Database Report: Ohio 16 Closes in on I-70 for Most Dangerous Road”

By Russ Zimmer

Newark Advocate, Newark, Ohio

February 10, 2008


“Special Database Report: Despite Fewer Crashes, 21st Street Still Has Bad Reputation”

By Amy Picard

Newark Advocate, Newark, Ohio

February 10, 2008




Jenn – Legislative Branch


Congressional Budget Office


Federal Election Commission


Center for Responsive Politics


Center for Public Integrity


Searchable Database:


Our Private Legislatures


Downloadable Database:


Congressional Budget Office Economic Forecast




“$4.5 million for a boat that nobody wanted”

By David Heath and Hal Bernton

The Seattle Times, Seattle, WA

October 15, 2007




Ashley – World of the disadvantaged


Office of Child Support Enforcement


Casey Journalism Center for Children and Families


American Community Survey


Searchable Databases


Department of Health and Human Services


Welfare Rules Database


Downloadable Database


Child Nutrition Database





“House of Lies”

By Debbie Cenziper

The Miami Herald, Miami, FL

August 2006




Brittany - Law Enforcement


The Office of Diversion Control of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)


National Youth Gang Surveys


Searchable Databases:


Prince George's County Police Department Neighborhood Crime Statistics


National Sex Offender Public Registry


Maryland Courts


Downloadable Databases:


Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime in the United States Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report

(Jan.-June 2007)


Maryland Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data: 1985 – 2006\


Bureau of Justice Statistics

Data for analysis - Crime & Justice Electronic Data Abstracts




“Dispatch agencies analysis: West Valley police slowest to respond”

Russ Rizzo

The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake City, UT

March 2, 2008




Karisse – Insurance


The Charlotte Observer “A Long, Painful Wait” Sun. Aug. 26, 2007 (News Story)


Maryland Insurance Administration (Useful to Reporter)


National Association of Insurance Commissioners (Useful to reporter)


Maryland HealthChoice Provider Directory (Searchable Database)


National Insurance Crime Bureau Flood Vehicle Database (Searchable Database)


National Insurance Crime Bureau VIN Check (Searchable Database)


Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (Useful to reporter)


Virginia Department of Health- Statistical Reports and Tables (Downloadable Database)




Eli – Real estate


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


National Council of State Housing Agencies


National Low-Income Housing Coalition


Urban Land Institute


Searchable Database:


Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae)

Search for Fannie Mae-owned property


Downloadable Database:


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Data sets of the measures of housing affordability




 “Forced Out”

The Washington Post

Debbie Cenziper and Sarah Cohen

March 9-11, 2008




Lauren – Judicial System


Covering Criminal Justice: A Resource Guide for Journalists


Maryland Judiciary


Lawyer Search





Searchable Database:


Maryland Judiciary Case Search (searchable)



Downloadable Databases:


U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (downloadable)


Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports (downloadable)


National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (searchable/downloadable)




“DUI: A Failure to Convict”

By Brad Branan

The Tucson Citizen

Series: August 17-19, 2005





Steven – Charities and Nonprofits


The Urban Institute


American Institute of Philanthropy


Internal Revenue Service for Nonprofits



Searchable Databases

Charity Navigator





Downloadable Databases

Exempt Organizations: IRS Master File Data

from the Internal Revenue Service,,id=97186,00.html




“A Taxing Matter”

By Peter Panepento and Grant Williams

The Chronicle of Philanthropy

January 30, 2008


“Assets on Loan”

By Harvy Lipman and Grant Williams

The Chronicle of Philanthropy

February 5, 2004



Megha – Business


Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation


The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission


PR Newswire


National Labor Relations Board


The Consumer Product Safety Commission


Federal Trade Commission


Searchable database:


 Edgar Company Search via the SEC


Downloadable databases:


 The U.S.Census, Statistics of U.S. Businesses




“Sold a Nightmare: Concord subdivision proves lucrative for builder

 and costly for first-time owners”

By Binyamin Appelbaum, Lisa Hammersly Munn and Ted Mellnik

The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer

Sunday, March 18, 2007



Kate – Health Care


National Association of Health Data Organizations


The National Committee for Quality Assurance


Public Citizen


Searchable Database


National Institutes of Health


Downloadable Database




“Lives at risk: An emergency room investigation -Year two”

By Valeri Williams, Meridith Schucker, Jesus Hernandez

WFAA-TV (Dallas)

Various dates in 2001: 

June 28; August 2, 3, 10; September 6, 24; October 14; November 16



Karisse – Special topic




Dan – State Freedom of Information Agencies


Open Government Guide – The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

(Tool to search and compare state open records/meetings laws)




Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission


FOI Commission – Index of Rulings


Ruling in Case # FIC 2007-154

MariAn Gail Brown and The Connecticut Post (Complainants) against

Chief, Police Department, Town of Stratford, Conn. (Respondent)




Hawaii Office of Information Practices


OIP Opinion Letter Summaries


OIP Opinion Letter 99-02, re: Release of Police Reports




New Jersey Government Records Council


GRC Advisory Decisions Search




New York Committee on Open Government


Committee on Open Government’s 2007 Report to the Governor and Legislature:

Building a Culture of Openness and Improving Transparency


Committee on Open Government Advisory Opinion Listing




Utah State Records Committee


State Records Committee Appeal Decision Summaries


State Records Committee Appeals relating to Salt Lake Tribune article




Jessi – Licensed Professionals


Council on Licensure Enforcement and Regulation


National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)


Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation


American Association of Retired Persons


Searchable Databases


Maryland State Bar Association


Federation of State Medical Boards


Downloadable Database


U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission




Maryland Lawyers Rarely Get Into Trouble”

and “Bad Lawyers Worsen Under Mild Punishments”

By Anju Kaur,

Capital News Service, December 19, 2007




Ashley – Special topic


CLASSICAL NET: The Internet's Premier Classical Music Source












Atrayee – World of the Disadvantaged


Casey Journalism Center for Children and Families


Economic Development Administration


Searchable database


Rural Policy Research Institute


American Public Human Services Association


U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food, and Nutrition Service


Downloadable database


Bureau of Economic Analysis


U.S. Census Bureau



Bureau of Justice Statistics




“For kids, a safety net in tatters”

By Greg Garland and Lynn Anderson

The Baltimore Sun

April 27, 2008,0,1758301.story




Bianca – Insurance


American Council of Life Insurers


Insurance Services Office


Coalition Against Insurance Fraud


Kaiser Family Foundation (state health facts)


Searchable Database


Texas Department of Insurance


Downloadable Database


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services




"I-Team Investigation:  Health Insurance"

 By Hagit Limor

WCPO (The E.W. Scripps Co.), Cincinnati, OH

February 13, 2008




David – Special topic



Yahoo! News


Google News Archive Search


Civil Engineering Blog


Ebert & Roeper Archive


Baseball Reference – Major League Baseball Statistics and History



Chris – Special topic



The Pour: Eric Asimov's NYT blog aggregating website for wine information


The Wine Enthusiast: offers reviews, consumer information and a handy "Vintage Chart"


Wine-Econ: An independent wine blog that covers wine business issues


WineFiles: a bibliography of wine reporting and history


Odds and Ends


More Intelligent Life: a culture and lifestyle section of the economist


Shadow Stats:

John Williams' website that compares official gov't statistics

with alternative models




Nicole – Transportation


Federal Aviation Administration:


Federal Highway Administration:


U.S. Department of Transportation:


U.S. Coast Guard:


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:


National Transportation Safety Board:





“Where the bad bridges are, state by state”



Samia – International


The Society of Professional Journalists


Human Rights Watch


Governments on the World Wide Web –


Downloadable Databases


U.S. Census Bureau - International Data Base


The United Nations


Searchable Database


International Monetary Fund


Reporting project:


“American Imports, Chinese Deaths”

By Loretta Tofani

The Salt Lake Tribune



Sites for class discussion:


A Jour 774/474 sampler of news sites:



Dirty data:


“Resurrected,’ but still wallowing in red tape; Government records incorrectly kill off thousands, and there’s no easy fix,”

MSNBC and NBC News, Feb. 29, 2008

(Thanks to Steve for the link)


Campaign finance


Clinton, Obama are Wall Street Darlings”

The Los Angeles Times

March 21, 2008,1,7162103.story



“Sikh Political Engagement Surges in Presidential Elections”

By Anju Kaur (a former JOUR 774 student)

Sikh News Network


New York Times Map of Campaign Contributions



Election demographics


Patchwork Nation / The Christian Science Monitor



Examples of data acquisition project success:


Anju Kaur named IRE awards finalist for 2007


Her story: “Bad Lawyers Worsen Under Mild Punishments”

Capital News Service


Dan Wilcock named IRE awards finalist for 2003:


His story:  “Sewage Overflows Soar in 2003”

Capital News Service



Sites for discussion of polling


Clinton Leads McCain by 9 Points Nationwide, AP Poll Shows,”

Bloomberg, April 28, 2008


Clinton leads McCain in national survey”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 28



AP-Ipsos Poll:



“Obama competitive in Pennsylvania, up in Indiana: poll”

AFP, April 15, 2008

Saved copy:



“New Quinnipiac PA Poll Numbers”

ABC, April 15, 2008

Saved copy:


Quinnipiac poll

April 15, 2008



Pennsylvania results – New York Times:


Pennsylvania results - Google maps:



Who are the “independent experts” you use and are they really independent?


“Message Machine:

Behind Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand”

By David Barstow

The New York Times

April 20, 2008


In the news:

“In Zimbabwe Jail: A Reporter’s Ordeal”

Barry Bearak

The New York Times

April 27, 2008






“Did you know…”


Hiding in plain sight:

Manhole covers, made in India / The New York Times



ESPN:  The Patrick Hughes Story


Mastery comes in many forms…..


MSNBC bridges