Recent Articles

Introducing the INN Toolbox

If you've ever found yourself wishing for a list of reporting, data and visualization resources among INN members, today is your lucky day! We are happy to bring you the INN Toolbox, a collection of searchable databases, Github repos, APIs, embeddable widgets and more that can help with reporting and online presentation. Continue Reading →

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Deadline extended: Three members team up to offer campaign finance, dark money training

Political parties, super PACs, hybrid super PACs, corporate disclosures, nonprofits, corporate disclosures — tracing the flow of money through campaigns is only becoming more complicated. Three investigative newsrooms well versed in covering campaign finance— Center for Public Integrity, Center for Responsive Politics and Sunlight Foundation — are teaming up to offer training that helps reporters make sense of all this data ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. The in-depth training starts with the basics of campaign finance and moves into super PACs and dark money in the post-Citizens United landscape. You'll learn where to find data and how to use online tools from Sunlight, OpenSecrets and more. You'll also hear from veteran political reporters and discuss how to turn all this data into impactful reporting when you return to the newsroom. Continue Reading →

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Little tracking for hazardous materials transported through states

Each day, potentially hazardous chemicals — like paint, gasoline and compressed and flammable gases — are transported on the nation’s railroads, highways, waterways and through the air. In many cases, these there is very little tracking of these chemicals unless something goes wrong, according to the findings of a collaborative investigation conducted by several INN members. The project used data from the Hazardous Materials Incident Reporting Subsystem maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The data has collected, cleaned and curated by the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting at Investigative Reporters and Editors, with which INN has a partnership. Using the data, our members could analyze:
City and route where the incident occurred
Name and quantity of material released
Carrier name and the company that shipped the material
Information about injuries, fatalities, road closures, evacuations, damages, amount of damages and cost of response

More than half a million hazardous materials transportation incidents have occured since 1973, when the system began collecting records. Continue Reading →

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Methodology for ‘Exhausted at School’ project

To find schools that could be in hazardous pollution zones, INN members in the 'Exhausted at School' project used two sets of data for each state or area analyzed: One was a set of roadways and corresponding traffic counts from the state department of transportation and the other a set of school addresses from the state department of education. Using mapping software known as ArcMap, roadways were selected with an average of 50,000 or more vehicles per day, based on the annualized average daily traffic number as calculated by state traffic engineers. Then the schools were mapped, and the schools within 500 feet of those highways were selected. INN journalists took care to select only schools where children were present (eliminating administration buildings and closed schools) and verified the location of each school in the potential pollution plume. Some INN member newsrooms also looked at day cares and private schools within that zone. Continue Reading →

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INN members pinpoint schools in potentially dangerous traffic pollution zones

Each week across the country, children spend hours in school buildings located close to busy highways — potentially exposing them to high levels of toxic exhaust and diesel fumes, an investigation by Investigative News Network member newsrooms has found. Exhausted at School is an investigation into toxic road pollution and its effect on kids’ health at school. Using a detailed data analysis based on existing research, members pinpointed dozens of schools in states across the country that could pose a health risk to students based on their location near the nation’s busiest highways. The project, which was generously supported by the IRE and Google Ideas Data Journalism Fund, is being led by INN and InvestigateWest, an award-winning journalism studio in Seattle. Among the findings and impacts:

In San Diego, Voice of San Diego found 39 schools in the pollution danger zone around the city. Continue Reading →

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Deconstructing the “Data Tower of Babel” To Do Real Journalism


"There's a story in the Bible, where the different peoples of the earth get together and start building a tower.  God gets jealous, or maybe he thinks it's a bad idea, and he makes them all speak different languages," says Travis Swicegood of the Texas Tribune, leading a session on data journalism.  "We journalists don't have that problem.  We're not even building a tower yet." Swicegood outlines the state of cross-organization cooperation today. Continue Reading →

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News Startups Accelerate at CJET

Lila LaHood, Publisher, SF Public Press, presenting at CJET

Over the next two days, a select group of investigative and community news startups will gather together to work out step-by-step plans to make their organization thrive for years to come.  CJET helps the people who drive new online news organizations build business skills and work out a plan that will bring them to financial sustainability. Continue Reading →

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Building Community, Innovation: The Power of Coding Workshops, Hackathons for Nonprofit News Organizations

coding event

Social coding events have become more popular in recent years due to the increasing open civic data movement in the United States and around the world. This week we take a look into what it takes for a nonprofit news organization to implement its own social coding event. Continue Reading →

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Nonprofit newsprint targets underserved audiences, builds partnerships, marketing base

SFPP issue-11-front-page-2

Many public-media entrepreneurs believe the abandonment of print, broadcast and other traditional media is premature. In the hallways at journalism conferences, a number of members of the Investigative News Network have told me they need to do more to raise their profiles locally, reach new audiences and give their operations a “cool factor.” Continue Reading →

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