Code in Journalism Roundup, January 17th
Interactive features, data projects, and commentary
Many of the last few weeks’ data journalism and news app projects have focused on gun laws, the NRA’s influence in Congress, and related data. We also have coverage of Sandy legislation, a data liberation project from the NYT, interactive features about the upcoming Academy Awards, a major data release from the Pew Research Center, and more.
Shootings and Responses
ProPublica’s Lena Groeger created “Where Congress Stands on Guns,” an interactive feature that breaks down the stance of each member of congress, based on ratings from special interest groups and voting records, along with NRA campaign contributions. The Guardian created a state-by-state interactive examination of US gun laws, including Facebook integration to see the laws applicable where your friends live. The Washington Post created an interactive feature tracking NRA contributions to members of Congress and, in support of an article on gun law, the Washington Post published an interactive map of mental health report density in the US.
The New York World obtained the nominally unavailable Google Fusion Tables that underlie the Journal News’ controversial map of gun permit holders by home address, and used the data to examine the per-capita density of gun permits, broken down by zip code. The World’s article also explores data security and responsibility issues that arise from the use of new tools in newsrooms:
So what’s an organization to do? One, understand that if you’re using the free version of Fusion Tables your data is public once you put it on the web, no matter how carefully you think you have it locked down.… anytime you’re putting sensitive data out for public consumption on the web, no matter what the platform, expect the unexpected. Users can and will mine the information toward their own ends.
The National Post created 31 Days Later, a visualization of US gun deaths since the Sandy Hook shooting, using data from the Slate/@Gundeaths project, and with special attention given to children with a firearm. At Slate, as of today, the count stands at 1013 deaths.
Government and Legislation
At the NYT, Derek Willis wrote about using the mobile version of the US government’s Plum Book to free the data it contains:
The Plum Book mobile site was built with Backbone.js. A little exploration (with help from my colleague Jeremy Ashkenas, Backbone’s creator) revealed JSON data on the back end for each position.
The Times published the resulting data store on GitHub.
WNYC published an embeddable breakdown of spending in active Sandy recovery and mitigation legislation and a single-serving app that captures “but then” statements from transcripts of This American Life.
NPR created a multimedia slideshow of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s family photos, and used Tumblr to produce their ongoing Dear Mr. President feature collecting messages for the 2013 Inauguration. The Washington Post ran an interactive feature on the aging of the President.
Movies and TV
The LA Times created an interactive timeline of Academy Awards coverage, and the Guardian plotted release dates and genres for Academy Award-nominated and -winning movies since the first awards in 1929, and USA Today ran an interactive feature on the careers of this year’s nominees.
The National Post made an interactive feature breaking down every zombie death in The Walking Dead.
The Pew Research Center released 12 years of data sets from its Internet & American Family Life surveys.
New Scientist created an interactive feature mapping global rises in temperature that lets readers view climate change in their own neighborhoods, the Guardian mapped WHO data on outdoor air pollution worldwide, and the Wall St. Journal tracked zip-code-based price variation on Staples.com.
Editor, Source, 2012-2018.