Data Journalism

Recent posts

Network News: Florida Wins Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism

We are very pleased to announce that StateImpact Florida is now the official winner of the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism in the small newsroom category. The award went to both WUSF and WLRN-Miami Herald News Public Radio for “No Choice: Florida Charter Schools Failing to Serve Students with Disabilities.”

Becky Lettenberger / NPR StateImpact

The series has all of the hallmarks of a great StateImpact story:

  1. It illustrated the effect of state policy on people’s lives–in this case, some of the most underserved and underrepresented in our communities: children with disabilities. John O’Connor and Sarah Gonzalez‘s multi-platform story brought the people they met into their audience’s lives and made the issues they face real and immediate. 
  2. It was data- and document-driven. The team gathered and analyzed data from 14 school districts representing more than three-quarters of Florida’s total charter school enrollment in order to identify trends and oversights.
  3. It used the unique strengths of multiple platforms intelligently, keeping stats and figures online, in easy-to-access formats and putting some of the best, most human and interesting components in the broadcast piece.
  4. It was an example of the type of watchdog, public service journalism that we strive to produce every day. It questioned the efficacy of popular state policies and investigated whether scarce public resources were being wisely used.
  5. It was a successful, network-building collaboration—in this case, with the Miami Herald, one of the country’s most widely-circulated and well-respected newspapers.

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Network News: July 9-15

In the Spotlight

StateImpact Indiana’s coverage of school test scores last week hit the nail on the head. Reporter Kyle Stokes paired his customizable data-driven interactives with both explanatory and analytical reporting–a combination that effectively drove steady traffic to the site all week long. How did he do it, you ask?

  • He prepared a handy-dandy map of school districts (or, as they call them in Indiana, “corporations”) long ago, as part of his data library.
  • He created strong visual components, including a sleek interactive map that allows readers to search for scores down to the district and grade-level and a sortable table that allows them to search by school, should that tickle their fancies.
  • He dissected the story–and the take-aways–into several different posts.

As we’ve discovered in past cases, readers tend to refer back to our data-rich apps and graphics again and again. We will therefore be doing some housekeeping and rolling out new methods of showcasing your wares–past, present and future–in coming weeks. Reporters, look for more from Jessica this week and next as we all endeavor to get more bang for our data buck.

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Inside Our Latest News App: How It Works and How We Worked Together to Build It

Click the image to view the application.

A key part of the editorial mission on the StateImpact project is to focus our stories on how state policy affects people’s lives. That’s true for for our digital posts and our radio pieces, and also for our interactive news applications.

In our latest news app, Dried Out, we visualized how a historic drought consumed Texas in 2011 and how the dry conditions compared to recent memory. But we paid as much attention to the impact of the drought, which was devastating, and on state policy choices that could mitigate future droughts, which might become more common and more severe.

We sought to tell a story, in short, not just to wow readers with beautiful visuals. (Though we hope to do that, too).

We contained the interactive to one largely static page, and the result is something approaching the vanishing “double truck” newspaper layouts that contain lots of graphics, images and narrative content. We broke the story into four buckets: the history, and the drought’s progression; the impact, and its devastation; the policy choices, and their limitations; and the Texans, who we hope will tell us their stories. Continue reading