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Journalism 772 and 472: Computer-Assisted Reporting

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

University of Maryland

Spring 2009


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:



Contests over public records


Hartford's Fighting Freedom of Information Cases Has Cost More Than $125,000”

The Hartford Courant

April 3, 2009,0,7231239.story



In Baltimore, a complaint from David Simon about the refusal of Baltimore Police to release information from public records in police shootings …


In The Washington Post:


In The Baltimore City Paper:


More about the police shooting mentioned by Simon (see the Feb. 19, 2009, item “Withholding names of police who shoot”



In New Orleans, a fight over the mayor’s records …



Controversy over publication of guns database



For discussion of the reporting topics assignment


Mine safety and mining accidents


Searching for data by type




Violations and Filetype:xls


Spreadsheet [Note:  We will discuss virus checks and downloading the file]




Reading SEC documents:




For discussion of data acquisition issues:


Md. Offers Child-Care Inspection Data Online

Reports Give Parents Details on Services”

By Donna St. George

The Washington Post, January 30, 2009,  Page B01


Child Care Licensing - Compliance Record Search

Office of Child Care, Division of Early Childhood Development,

Maryland State Department of Education


Mastery comes in many forms …


Landing in the Hudson



Animation with audio


Pilot interview



Four-part fugue


Shadow puppet




ESPN:  The Patrick Hughes Story




Journalists collaborating


The Chauncey Bailey Project




ESPN:  The Patrick Hughes Story




Database humor




Current CAR stories


“Poor Neighborhoods, Untested Teachers;

Many of D.C. Region's Low-Income Areas in a Cycle of Inexperience”

By Daniel de Vise and Michael Alison Chandler

With contributions from Database Editor Dan Keating

The Washington Post

Monday, April 27, 2009

Data analysis:


Sites for student presentations:




K-12 Education – India D.


Center on Education Policy


Education Week


Education Sector


Searchable Database:


Education Resources Information Center


Downloadable Database:


California Department of Education – Public School Database




“Teachers who fail; A survey of certification-test scores yields alarming results”

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”




Higher Education – Lindsay


The Chronicle of Higher Education


The National Association of College Admissions Counselors


National Collegiate Athletic Association


Searchable Database


Student-athlete Athletic Database

(created by the Atlantic Journal-Constitution)


Downloadable Database


 Official Cohort Default Rates for Schools




 “AJC investigation: Many athletes lag far behind on SAT scores”

By Mike Knobler

The Atlanta Journal-Constiution

Sunday, December 28, 2008




K-12 Education – Karen


U.S. Department of Education:


Maryland State Department of Education:


U.S. Department of Education

Institute of Education Sciences:


Education Writers Association:


Public Agenda on Education:


Urban Institute – Education:


Education Commission of the States:


Searchable Databases


Maryland Report Card:


Institute of Education Sciences’ State Education Data Profiles (national):


EPE Research Center Graduation Rates Map:


Institute of Education Sciences’ School District Demographics System

(Snapshot Reports, Map Viewer, and Profile Comparisons):


Education Week’s Detailed State Data Comparison:


Downloadable Databases


Institute of Education Sciences’ Build a Table:


Institute of Education Sciences’ Public School District Finance Peer Sheet:




“Teachers who fail:

A survey of certification-test

scores yields alarming results”


By Chris Davis and Matthew Doig

The Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, FL

December 12, 2004


“How we did this story”


“State fights to prevent access to teacher information”



Licensed Professionals – Bobby


Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation


Maryland DLLR's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing


DC's Licensing Information under the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs,a,1342,q,600813,dcraNav_GID,1691,dcraNav,|33408|.asp


Searchable Databases:


DC Bar Association Disciplinary Database


Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission


Maryland Board of Physicians Practitioner Profile System


DC Health Professionals Licensing Administration|30659|


Downloadable Database:


Airman's Certification Database from the FAA




"Sexual Misconduct Plagues US Schools"

Martha Irvine and Robert Tanner

The Associated Press

October 21, 2007





Legislative branch – Chris M.


Sunlight Foundation:


Center for Responsive Politics:


Center for Public Integrity:


National Institute on Money in State Politics:


General Accountability Office:


Federal Election Commission:


Pork busters:


Searchable Databases


Center for Responsive Politics


Public Citizen


Downloadable Databases


Federal Election Commission




Investigative series: “The Favor Factory 2008”


Article: “Despite reforms, Congress hides $3.5B in defense earmarks”

 “A Seattle Times investigation …of the 2008 defense bill has found 155 hidden earmarks worth $3.5 billion. House members broke the new rules 110 times by not disclosing who was getting the favors.”

By David Heath and Christine Willmsen

Seattle Times

Oct. 12, 2008


Bill Moyer’s report:



Nonprofit and religious organizations – Jon


Maryland Nonprofits


USA Churches


Searchable database





Downloadable database


IRS Tax Stats,,id=97186,00.html




“Bishop’s charity generous to bishop”

John Blake

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

August 28, 2005.




World of the Disadvantaged – Megan G.


Wisconsin Shares Program


Wisconsin Temporary Assistance for Needy Families


Wisconsin Census Data


Searchable Database


Database of child-care providers receiving subsidies from Wisconsin Shares and how much they were paid, between 2006 and Nov. 2008


Downloadable Database


Downloadable Economic Data for Specific Areas of the United States




"Cashing in on Kids: A Watchdog Report"

By Raquel Rutledge

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Jan. 25-26, 2009


Part I: "Child-care scam rakes in thousands” (Jan. 25, 2009)

“Parents and child-care providers are finding ways to con the $340 million Wisconsin Shares child-care subsidy program…”


Part II: "Child care loopholes lead to easy money" (Jan. 26, 2009)

“A system of generous rules and lax regulations paves the way for parents and providers to abuse the system—sometimes in ways that are perfectly legal…”


Video file



Law enforcement – David J.


The U.S. Department of Justice

Bureau of Statistics


Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives


Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics


United States Marshals Service


Searchable Database


Example of Local Police Department's Searchable Crime Database

Prince Georges County Police Department


Downloadable Database

Federal Bureau of Investigation





“City Grapples With LAPD's Overtime Pay"

By Jason Kandel

The Daily News

Los Angeles, CA

October 17, 2008




Financial Institutions -- Jamie


Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation


NAACP, National Association of Colored People



Mortgage Bankers Association of America


Consumer Bankers Association


Searchable Database


Home Mortgage Disclosure Act

Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council


Downloadable Database


U.S. Census Bureau




“NAACP Sues Mortgage Lenders, Alleging Racism”

Friday, March 13, 2009

Story Highlights

  NAACP lawsuits accuse HSBC, Wells Fargo of "systematic, institutionalized racism"

  Both companies deny allegations of racism in subprime lending

  Suits: Firms gave subprime rates to African-Americans who qualified for better rates

  NAACP has launched similar suits against lenders


Video Link:




Energy and Utilities – Stan



Maryland Public Service Commission


Nuclear Regulatory Commission


Maryland Public Interest Research Group

(Advocacy Group)


Constellation Energy



Searchable Database


Environmental Defense Fund


MD PSC Official Filings


Downloadable Databases


The Energy Information Administration


The Nuclear Energy Institute




“Water Agency Kept Uranium Contamination Secret;

Metropolitan Water District knew of radioactive

contamination at Hayfield site for 8 years. 

Agency says problem is not ‘show-stopper’”


By Brian Joseph

The Orange County Register, CA

October 10, 2008




Law Enforcement (Part B) – David S.




Maryland State Police


Drug Enforcement Agency


Searchable database:


Sex Offender Registry Site


Downloadable database:


UCR Crime Data




“What Rape?”

Jeremy Kohler

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

January 16, 2005




Crime – Tina


The Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics


The Bureau of Justice Statistics


The American Press Institute


The Federal Bureau of Investigation – Publications site


Searchable Database


The Maryland Sex Offender Registry


Downloadable Database


U.S. Department of Education – Office of Postsecondary Education




“Lost Lives: A Decade of Tulsa Homicides”

By Nicole Marshall, Curtis Killman, and James Plumlee

The Tulsa World

Tulsa, OK

June 25, 2008



Transportation - Sharmina


The U.S. Department of Transportation


The National Transportation Safety Board


Federal Aviation Administration


Office of Hazardous Materials Safety


Federal Transit Administration


U.S. Maritime Administration


Searchable Database


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Federal Aviation Administration Aircraft Registry


Downloadable Database


U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration




“Front airbags don’t inflate in hundreds of head-on crashes”

By Mike Casey and Rick Montgomery

The Kansas City Star

Kansas City, Missouri

Oct. 22, 2007




Financial Institutions - Emily


Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation


Maryland Dept. of Business & Economic Development


Searchable Databases


U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,


EDGAR database


U.S. Federal Reserve System


Federal Reserve - searchable database


Downloadable Database


National Credit Union Association,


 “FOIA Data Files”




“Borrowers Betrayed: Ex-convicts active in mortgage fraud”

By Jack Dolan, Rob Barry and Matthew Haggman

The Miami Herald, Miami, FL

July 20-22, 2008







Judicial System – Matt


United States Department of Justice


Federal Bureau of Prisons


Searchable Databases


Maryland Court Records


National Criminal Justice Reference Service


Downloadable Database


Bureau of Justice Statistics




“Unequal Justice: Murders on Probation”

By Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin

Dallas Morning News

11/10/07, 11/13/07, and 11/14/07




Law Enforcement – Shane


Police Executive Research Forum:


FBI Homepage


The American Press Institute:


Searchable Database


DC Metro Police Department


Downloadable Database


Bureau of Justice Statistics




“Deadly Force”

By Sari Horwitz, Jeff Leen, David Jackson

The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

November 15-19, 1998



The Environment – Catherine


The Environmental Protection Agency


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


The National Priorities List


Searchable Database




Downloadable Database


The 2007 Toxics Release Inventory




"The Hidden Costs of Clean Coal:

The Environmental and Human Disaster of Longwall Mining"

By Kristen Lombardi

The Center for Public Integrity

Washington, D.C.

Jan. 12, 2009





The Environment – Doug


Local Drinking Water Information

Environmental Protection Agency


Monitoring and Assessing Water Quality

Environmental Protection Agency


Safe Drinking Water Information System

Environmental Protection Agency


Searchable Database:


Pollution Information Site


National Assessment Database

Environmental Protection Agency




“Water agency kept uranium contamination secret

Metropolitan Water District knew of radioactive contamination

 at Hayfield site for 8 years. Agency says problem is not 'show-stopper.'”

Brian Joseph

The Orange County Register

Orange County, CA

Friday October 10, 2008




Health Care – Melanie


The National Library of Medicine


The Joint Commission


Veteran Health Care


Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


Searchable Database


Medical Device Safety Reports


Downloadable Database


Department of Health and Human Services Medicare


Food and Drug Administration




“Many Nursing Homes Run Risk of Catastrophic Fires”

“Four of every five nursing homes that have had fatal fires over the past five years had gotten waivers from regulators that allowed them to keep doing business despite fire safety deficiencies.”

By Peter Eisler, USA TODAY

October  16, 2005



Health Care – Meghan C.


The Joint Commission


Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


American Hospital Association


Searchable database


Medicare Hospital Compare


Downloadable database:


The Joint Commission Health Care Quality Data Download




"Infection epidemic carves deadly path:

Poor hygiene, overwhelmed workers contribute to thousands of death"

 by Michael Berens

The Chicago Tribune

July 21, 2002,0,2177158.story?page=1&coll=chi-news-hed




Judicial System – Kyle


U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics


U.S. Department of Justice


Innocence Project


Searchable Database


Maryland State Court Records


Downloadable Database


Judicial Research Initiative





"Trashing the Truth"

By Susan Greene and Miles Moffeit

The Denver Post, Denver, CO

July 22-25, 2007 (Four-day series)



Legislative - Katie


Follow The Money: Information on Money in State Politics


The Center for Tobacco Policy


Columbia University Library Resources


Searchable Database


Open Secrets: Data on Lobbying


Downloadable Database


Federal Exchange Commission




“Sen. Hatch’s secret drug firm links,

Drugmaker money to Utah senator’s charity escaped disclosure”

By Jim McElhatton and Jerry Seper

The Washington Times, Washington, D.C.

March 2, 2009



Gender – Diversity

Jim Baxter


National News: Post-Election (Proposition 8)


California General Exit Poll (Sacramento Bee, 11/12/08)


"Search for Prop. 8 donors" (Sacramento Bee, 11/12/08)

More than 60,000 individuals and groups contributed a total of roughly $73 million to either side of the

Proposition 8 debate, according to a database of donations that can be searched.


"Surge for Obama sealed Prop. 8's victory" (Sacramento Bee, 11/11/08)


"Was age really the big factor in Prop. 8 victory?" (Los Angeles Times, 11/13/08)


"Black support for Prop. 8 called exaggeration" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/07/09)


"Evangelicals carried Prop. 8, poll says" (Ventura County Star, 12/04/08)


"Yes, California minority voters axed gay marriages" (Sacramento Bee, 1/19/09)


DiCamillo: Polling on Prop. 8





Local News: Salaries at Non-Profit Organizations


"Top Salaries Among LGBT, AIDS Groups" (Washington Blade, 03/27/09)


"Food & Friends executive lands $25,000 raise" (Washington Blade 03/20/09)


* * *


Local News: D.C City Council Questions HIV Clinic


"Angry Council members continue probe of Whitman-Walker’s finances" (Washington Blade, 5/01/09)


"Whitman-Walker issues lengthy response to criticisms" (Washington Blade, 03/27/09)


"Whitman-Walker under fire" (Washington Blade, 02/06/09)


"Whitman-Walker Clinic announces layoffs, cuts" (Washington Blade, 12/19/08)





Pam Spaulding


Joe Jervis


Andy Towle


Independent Gay Forum


Rex Wockner


Andrew Sullivan


John Aravosis


Annual Best LGBT Blog




National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association

Of particular interest to non-gay journalists, is their "Resources page," which includes a supplement

to the AP Stylebook on preferred LGBT terminology (in PDF format).



Freedom to Marry


Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation


Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network


Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund


Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays


Servicemembers Legal Defense Network




Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund


Human Rights Campaign


Log Cabin Republicans


National Gay & Lesbian Task Force


National Stonewall Democrats