Highlights from NICAR's Year in CAR presentation

This morning’s Year in CAR presentation at NICAR 2013 provided a great look back not only at some of the great investigative work of the last year, but also some really good visualizations and presentations.

The full slide deck from Mark Horvit and Megan Luther’s presentation should be on the IRE site soon, but below are some of my favorites from their list of 2012 data-driven highlights. Click through for some of the great work of the past year.

The Seattle Times took a deep look at zoo elephants and found that preservation and breeding programs have “largely failed, both in Seattle and nationally. The infant-mortality rate of elephants in zoos is almost triple the rate in the wild.” The Times’  elephant family tree graphic was particularly interesting.

The Center for Public Integrity looked at Medicare billing, focusing particularly on the habit of some doctors to “upcode” or charge Medicare more for care than the services that were actually delivered justified.

The Tampa Bay Times investigated Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, finding that the “law is being used in ways never imagined — to free gang members involved in shootouts, drug dealers beefing with clients and people who shot their victims in the back.” The list of fatal cases provided a clear look at victims.

The Bay Area NBC Affiliate mined the Federal Services Administration’s Federal Procurement Data System to find that federal money meant to support small businesses regularly went to companies whose parent organizations were huge corporations — including Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.

The Los Angeles Times tracked response times to 911 calls in the city, finding that response time varied greatly by neighborhood. A map that accompanied the story provided a quick, efficient glimpse of the problem.

Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Cheating our Children project looked at test scores from “69,000 public schools and found high concentrations of suspect math or reading scores in school systems from coast to coast.” The project ran in five parts and included visualizations, photos, and video.

Wisconsin Watch took a detailed look at Governor Scott Walker’s calendar and found that as his presence on the national stage grew, the time devoted to work shrank.

Sunlight Foundation analyzed congressional speeches and found that Congress speaks at a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago. The project made interesting use of Sunlight’s Capitol Words data.

A Seattle Times investigation found that Washington state steers Medicaid patients toward methadone as a pain reliever in an effort to cut costs and save money. Though “the state insists methadone is safe … hundreds die from it each year — and more than anyone else, it's the poor who pay the price.” The project included great graphics and interactive features.

Pro Publica’s Presidential Pardons investigation found that whites were “nearly four times as likely as minorities to be granted a pardon.” This graphic painted a particularly clear picture of the story found in the data.

About the author

Ryan Graff

Journalism, revenue, whitewater, former carny. Recently loving some quality time @KelloggSchool.

Latest Posts

  • A Google Spreadsheets change affecting TimelineJS users

    Google recently changed something about their Sheets service which is causing many people to run into an error when they are making a new timeline. Note: there should be no impact on existing timelines! After this change, many of you click on the "preview" and get this message: An unexpected error occurred trying to read your spreadsheet data [SyntaxError] Timeline configuration has no events. There is a straightforward work-around, but it requires those of you who have...

    Continue Reading

  • How Americans think and feel about gun violence

    A man killed his wife, then himself. I want you to see his face and learn that he enjoyed fishing with his grandchildren. A small-time drug dealer is shot by two men in a parking lot. I find his Facebook profile and a photo shows him striking a playfully irreverent pose, giving the camera the middle finger. The photo’s comments take a mournful turn after a certain date. “Rest easy bro ???” Gun Memorial runs...

    Continue Reading

  • Software developers interested in journalism: Northwestern and The Washington Post want you!

    Northwestern University and The Washington Post are offering a unique opportunity for two talented software developers interested in applying their programming skills in media and journalism. Here’s the proposition: (1) a full-tuition scholarship to earn a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University, followed by (2) a six-month paid internship with The Post’s world-class engineering team, with the possibility of subsequent full-time employment. These opportunities are made possible by the John S. and James L....

    Continue Reading

  • What happened when Gun Memorial let anyone contribute directly to victim profiles

    If you’re reporting local or niche news, there’s a good chance that your audience collectively knows more about the story than you do. That’s especially true for us at Gun Memorial, a small publication with a nationwide mission of covering every American who is shot dead. In our latest, mostly successful, experiment, we let readers add to our stories without editor intervention. This article shares some lessons from that experience. Asking for reader contributions A...

    Continue Reading

  • How conversational interfaces make the internet more accessible for everyone

    This story is part of a series on bringing the journalism we produce to as many people as possible, regardless of language, access to technology, or physical capability. Find the series introduction, as well as a list of published stories here. In 2004, human-computer interaction professor Alan Dix published the third edition of Human-Computer Interaction along with his colleagues, Janet Finley, Gregory Abowd, and Russell Beale. In a chapter called “The Interaction,” the authors wrote...

    Continue Reading

  • Three tools to help you make colorblind-friendly graphics

    This story is part of a series on bringing the journalism we produce to as many people as possible, regardless of language, access to technology, or physical capability. Find the series introduction, as well as a list of published stories here. I am one of the 8% of men of Northern European descent who suffers from red-green colorblindness. Specifically, I have a mild case of protanopia (also called protanomaly), which means that my eyes lack...

    Continue Reading

Storytelling Tools

We build easy-to-use tools that can help you tell better stories.

View More