How Data Empowers You by Dianna Hunt

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Dianna Hunt, watchdog/news editor for The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, La.), offers tips for improving your data journalism during the free investigative workshop, "Accountability in Indian Country - Be a Better Business Watchdog," on July 18, 2013.

Presented by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, this workshop was part of the Native American Journalists Association's annual conference in Phoenix.

For more information about free training for business journalists, please visit businessjournalism.org.

For additional resources on using data to empower your coverage, please visit the training archive page at http://businessjournalism.org/2013/07/17/accountability-in-indian-country-be-a-better-business-watchdog-self-guided-training/.

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How Data Empowers You by Dianna Hunt

  1. 1. How  Data  Empowers   You   Dianna  Hunt   Watchdog/News  Editor   The  Daily  Adver;ser   Lafaye>e,  La.   dhunt@theadver;ser.com  
  2. 2. Facing  your  Fears   •  Numbers/data  add  credibility  to  your   repor;ng   •  Anecdotes  tell  the  human  element;  numbers   back  up  the  anecdotes   •  Anyone  who  can  add  and  subtract  can  use   numbers  effec;vely  in  a  story   •  Percentages  are  nice,  too  
  3. 3. Wri;ng  with  Authority   New  policy,  rise  in  arrests  lead  to  concerns   about  school  safety   By  Amanda  McElfresh   amcelfresh@theadver;ser.com               In  her  20  years  of  teaching  in  the  Lafaye>e  Parish  School   System,  Nancy  Romero  has  seen  fights,  handled   disciplinary  problems  and  been  one  of  the  area's  most   vocal  proponents  of  safety  on  school  campuses.   This  year,  though,  something  is  different,  Romero  says.   Teachers  are  not  necessarily  more  afraid  of  their  students,   but  there's  a  tense,  uneasy  feeling  on  school  grounds   that  a  discipline  problem  could  erupt  at  any  ;me.   "Most  teachers  are  feeling  the  campuses  are  not  as  safe   for  students  or  for  teachers  as  they  have  been  in  the   past,"  Romero  said.  "They  don't  feel  that  things  are   being  done  or  preventa;ve  measures  are  being  taken   that  would  stop  it  before  it  starts.  It's  a  heightened   awareness  that  things  are  going  on.”     Photo  by  flickr  user  Tony  Margiocchi  
  4. 4. Wri;ng  with  Authority   New  policy,  rise  in  arrests  lead  to  concerns   about  school  safety  (con<nued)   By  Amanda  McElfresh   amcelfresh@theadver;ser.com     Lafaye?e  school  arrest  records  appear  to  support  teachers'  concerns.   Since  a  new  disciplinary  policy  went  into  effect  this  year  making   it  more  difficult  to  throw  problem  students  off  campus,  arrests  at   school  have  soared  more  than  51  percent,  par<cularly  in  middle   schools,  according  to  arrest  records  analyzed  by  The  Daily   Adver<ser.            In  October  alone,  10  arrests  were  made  for  ba?ery  of  a  teacher,   and  two  for  aggravated  assault.  Disturbing  the  peace  was  the   most  common  reason  for  arrest,  with  41  instances,  and  arrests   for  simple  ba?ery  trailed  in  second  place  with  14.            Carencro  schools  saw  a  similar  rise,  par<cularly  at  Carencro  Middle   School  where  26  arrests  were  made  this  year  —  five  <mes  more   than  last  year.            Carencro  Police  Chief  Carlos  Stout  said  officers  assigned  to  schools   do  as  much  as  they  can  to  maintain  order  on  campus.  But  he  said   students  should  suffer  the  consequences  for  causing  trouble.       Photo  by  flickr  user  Tony  Margiocchi  
  5. 5. Backing  up  your  anecdotes   'Enough  is  enough':  Teachers  leaving   classrooms  in  droves   By  Amanda  McElfresh   amcelfresh@theadver;ser.com     Edward  Gauthier  spent  more  than  three  decades  teaching   in  Louisiana  public  schools,  including  16  years  at   Carencro  High  School  teaching  special  educa;on,   English  and  computer  science.   He  could  have  re;red  in  2009,  but  he  was  having  so  much   fun  teaching  and  learning  alongside  his  students  that   he  stayed  in  the  classroom.   Then  came  changes  in  the  state  educa;onal  system  that   cut  his  promised  monthly  re;rement  income,  and   Gauthier  began  to  worry  that  his  re;rement  would  be   gone  before  he  could  ever  take  it.   "I  took  some  of  this  news  hard,"  he  said,  "and  my  feelings   were,  'I  give  my  life  to  train  other  people's  kids  to  go  to   college  and  the  state  rewards  me  with  a  salary  that   won't  let  MY  sons  go  to  college.'"   He  re;red  last  June.   Photo  by  flickr  user  audio-­‐luci-­‐store.it  
  6. 6. Backing  up  your  anecdotes   'Enough  is  enough':  Teachers  leaving   classrooms  in  droves  (con<nued)   By  Amanda  McElfresh   amcelfresh@theadver;ser.com     'I  figured  I  had  a  few  more  years  le`  in  me,  but  when  I   learned  of  (Gov.  Bobby)  Jindal's  ideas,  I  got  nervous,"   he  said.   Gauthier  is  not  alone.  A  Daily  Adver<ser  analysis  of  teacher   re<rements  and  resigna<ons  the  past  two  school   years  shows  that  teachers  are  leaving  the  Lafaye?e   Parish  School  System  even  faster  than  they  are  leaving   the  classroom  statewide.   From  August  through  January,  teacher  resigna<ons  have   nearly  tripled  in  the  Lafaye?e  Parish  School  System,   from  29  to  102.   Re<rements  more  than  doubled  during  that  period,  from   19  to  41.   The  large  number  of  departures  come  amid  dras<c  changes   in  public  educa<on  at  the  state  and  local  levels,   including  statewide  changes  in  the  way  teachers  are   evaluated;  reduced  re<rement  benefits;  and  a  shi^ing   focus  to  private  school  vouchers.   Photo  by  flickr  user  audio-­‐luci-­‐store.it  
  7. 7. Excerpt:     By  Claire  Taylor     Local  judges  spent  nearly  $900,000   in  public  funds  in  five  years  for  such   expenses  as  fish  tanks,  handmade   judicial  robes,  a  concealed  gun   permit  and  conferences  at  the   beach.     A  review  of  judicial  expense   accounts  by  The  Daily  Adver;ser   found  local  judges  charged  to  eat,   drive,  dress,  travel  and  decorate   their  offices  between  2008  and   2012  –  and  even  to  hang  their   portraits  on  the  courthouse  walls.  
  8. 8. Finding  the  right  numbers   •  What’s  the  total?   •  How  much  have   they  increased?   •  What  areas  have   seen  growth  or   decline?   •  Which  areas  are   growing  fastest?   •  How  much  did  it   cost?   Photo  by  flickr  user  Zach  K  
  9. 9. Where  to  look   •  Use  FOIA  laws  to  ask   for  what  you  want   •  Audits   •  990  forms  for   nonprofits   •  Budgets   •  Government  reports  
  10. 10. Audits/Annual  Reports   •  Look  for  the  summary  at  the  end   •  Look  for  no;ces  of  li;ga;on,  problems,   shornalls   •  Look  for  any  plans/recommenda;ons  for   correc;ng  the  problem   •  Some;mes  you’ll  see  no;ce  of  criminal   inves;ga;ons  
  11. 11. Percentage  change   Do  journalists  like  to  do  math?                                                              NOO!       Formula:  (New-­‐Old)/Old=   Move  decimal  2  places  to  right.     Image  by  Flickr  user  krossbow  
  12. 12. Grit  your  teeth  and  give  it   a  try:  calculate  this  %age   •  If  100  people  le`  the  school  district  last   year,  and  150  le`  the  school  district  this   year,  how  much  did  resigna;ons  increase?   •  Subtract  100  from  150.  The  difference  is   50.  Divide  50  by  100.  Move  the  decimal   over  two  spaces  to  the  right  to  change  the   number  to  a  percentage.   •  There  was  a  50  percent  increase.      150   -­‐  100   -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐          50   50  /  100  =  .50  *  Photo  by  flickr  user  Jenn  Durfey    
  13. 13. Talk  to  People   •  Numbers  are  not  the  story.   Numbers  are  the  beginning  of   the  story.   •  Talk  to  real  people,  get  real   anecdotes  to  bring  those   numbers  to  life   •  Use  the  numbers  to  support   your  anecdotes   •  Anecdotes  without  numbers   make  a  good  story   •  Anecdotes  with  numbers   make  a  powerful  story   Photo  by  flickr  user  Eternos  Indicadores  
  14. 14. Ques;ons?   Thanks  for  listening!   Dianna  Hunt   Watchdog/News  editor   The  Daily  Adver;ser   Lafaye>e,  La.   dhunt@theadver;ser.com   Twi>er:  @diannahunt       Photo  by  Flickr  user  Xurble  

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