At the Chicago Tribune, we had a simple goal: to automatically tweet contributions to Illinois politicians of $1,000 or more, which campaigns are required to report within five business days. To see, in something approximating real time, which campaigns are bringing in the big bucks and who those big-buck-bearers are. The Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) has helpfully published exactly this data for years online, in a format that appears to have changed very little since at least the mid-2000s. There’s no API for this data, but the stability of the format is encouraging. A scraper is hardly an ideal tool for anything intended to last for a while and produce public-facing data, but if we can count on the format of the page not to change much over at least the next several months, it’s probably worth it.
The U.S. Treasury’s Daily Treasury Statement lists actual cash spending down to the million on everything the government spent money on each day, as well as how it funded the spending. But, the Treasury only releases these files in PDF or fixed-width text files like this one, making any analysis very difficult.
To liberate the data and make it easy to analyze federal money flows across time, we created Treasury.IO. The system we built downloads and parses the fixed-width files into a standard schema, creating a SQLite database that can be directly queried via a URL endpoint.
At the Los Angeles Times, a design-editorial-programming team has resurrected the spirit of the beloved, out-of-print California Cookbook as a new website collecting hundreds of recipes from the Times Test Kitchen. In our Q&A, the project’s editor, designer, and lead programmer share their goals and challenges, and offer a peek at the site’s building blocks and planned future.
Lobbying Missouri is a collaboration between St. Louis Public Radio and members of NPR’s news apps teams. We spoke with three team members about the project, their design process, and the code under the hood.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jeremy Singer-Vine recently released Reporter, an open source tool that makes it easy to hide and reveal the code behind common forms of data visualization presented on the web. We spoke with him about the tool’s makeup, design goals, and future development plan.
Introducing csvdedupe, an open source command line tool for de-duplication and entity resolution.
Journalists gather in Italy this week, while Hacks/Hackers chapters hold meetups on balloon mapping and HTML 5, plus a cryptoparty.
The NYT’s Tiff Fehr on figuring out what Olympics fans expected and how her team made them happy.
The Knight News Challenge deadline is
today Tuesday at 5pm Eastern Daylight Time. (Due to technical difficulties, the deadline has been extended one day.)
Conference season is gearing up: Last week NICAR, this week SXSW Interactive.
Yesterday morning, the ProPublica apps team released a series of documents outlining their coding philosophy, app design and development practices, data validation techniques, and more. We spoke with Scott Klein about how his team’s processes evolved and how they made the time to document it all.
The first in a series of interviews with Knight International Journalism Fellows.
This week, the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference hits Louisville, Kentucky.
Google Journalism Fellowship deadline is this week. This weekend, learning with Code with me and hacking with the Sunlight Foundation and Digital Democracy.
Chase Davis breaks down his fec-standardizer project and explains where it’s going next.
New year and lots of event planning underway. Plus, we’re entering awards entry season: the IRE deadline is this Friday.
Reporters, designers, developers, and editors who worked on the NYT’s Snow Fall explain how they pulled it off.
Dan Sinker, head of Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, gets a year-in-review post in under the wire.
The Chicago Tribune’s Heather Billings talks about the methods, tools, and changes that made her year.
The AP’s Shazna Nessa breaks down five breakthrough design developments and news features from 2012.