News transparency-flathead


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Journalistic Transparency Presentation at the National Institute of Money in State Politics, Flathead Lake, Mont.

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  • • What we do: Do investigative stories and give them away free to newspapers and other media around the state, with a heavy emphasis on collaboration whenever possible • Run more than 30 major packages, which are typically run by 10 to 20 news organizations but occasionally blow up and go national  • It's not about our website - it's about getting others to use our stuff HOW WE STARTED Andy's dream WHAT I DO:  • Reporter and multimedia producer • What I do: A little of everything  - make maps, videos, slideshows, audio, what have you, do on-the-ground reporting, manage the website, analyze spreadsheets, work with interns AND:  • work with local editors to get them to run stuff
  • describe story: 
  • click quickly through
  • Segue into caveats — how we don't use data.
  • Governor Scott Walker in Feb introduced a "budget repair bill" -- typically not a big deal, just balancing the budget from the previous year — with a plan to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers.
  • what would have been nice : to put it all in a single spreadsheet, where we could do queries on it in Access.  But things were not to be so simple. 
  • [Intro along the lines of:] Exciting news to share:, a nonpartisan research organization tracking money and politics, is launching a new resource for journalists and others to track money in Wisconsin politics. [public launch of the site next week; special preview tonight].’s site connects three data sets: records of campaign contributions to Wisconsin legislators, every legislator’s vote on every bill, and data on which companies and organizations support and oppose key bills to illuminate connections between money and votes. The site also provides the tools to slice, dice and analyze this info in many different ways. For example…
  • … for each legislator, shows the top interest groups funding their campaign, as well as the top individual contributors. You can click through for more detailed breakdowns.
  • trying to get other news organizations to use our work, which means we have to help them find local angles to cover a statewide story • as much as possible • cleaned up so it's easy to use • given prominent caveats and limitations • use visualizations — even in the rough downloads page — not only for the readers, but to help editors understand why they should care about this data • which lately means lots of maps and local-level data • note that this is a collaboration with CPI
  • WHY no names: because they weren't the point. BUT we gave them to local media.
  • PERILS:  • Lots of mistakes in the sex offender registry. At first, Nick just matched addresses. Well, all sorts of ways to spell an address. Some people were dead. And people could have moved. Understand the limitations of the data: • Another example: century-old manufactured gas plants. The state agency had created a list of them five or six years ago when they had some money to parcel out — but they didn't really track them. So I dug through century-old utility records 
  • describe MGP story - used by news outlets all over the state, despite not really being super relevant to them since it was about Ashland. Using slideshows in this case helped people connect in a different way — through the humans who experienced living in the muck, seeing it greened over through the years, and then learning that (a) everybody was getting cancer around them and (b) it could be caused by this stuff that is still underground. We used it in combination with a map of sites like these around the state — localizable data. But i think Pep's story was what drew them to use it. FACT-CHECKING: in my experience. multimedia and stuff wasn't as well checked as stories. 
  • News transparency-flathead

    1. 1. NEW MEDIA driving transparency Kevin Davis, Investigative News Network Andy Hall, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Jody Brannon , Carnegie-Knight News21 Josh Hatch , Sunlight Foundation Transparency 2011: Springboard to Action National Institute on Money in State Politics Flathead Lake Lodge, Mont. June 17, 2011
    2. 2. Kevin Davis <ul><li>Chief Executive Officer Investigative News Network </li></ul>
    3. 3. Kevin Davis CEO, Investigative News Network [email_address] @KLJDavis “ The State of Local Journalism & the the role of Nonprofit Investigative News Outlets”
    4. 4. We are in a proverbial best-of-times and worst-of-times era for news - The Atlantic summarizing the recent FCC report “The Information Needs of Communities”
    5. 5. Sign of the Times
    6. 6. Sign of the Times
    7. 7. Sign of the Times
    8. 8. Sign of the Times
    9. 9. Sign of the Times
    10. 10. Sign of the Times
    11. 11. Sign of the Times
    12. 12. Sign of the Times
    13. 13. FCC Report: Lots of Analysis, Little Action
    14. 14. FCC Report: Lots of Analysis, Little Action
    15. 15. The FCC Report / cont ’d ✔ ✗ ✔ ✔ ✔✔ ✔✔
    16. 16. FCC Report: Lots of Analysis, Little Action For reactions to the FCC report, go to:
    17. 17. Nonprofit, Non-partisan News Organizations producing Investigative Journalism in the Public Interest
    18. 18. The Pocantico Declaration: Creating a Nonprofit Investigative News Network - July 1, 2009, Pocantico Conference Center, NY Resolved, that we, representatives of nonprofit news organizations, gather at a time when investigative reporting, so crucial to a functioning democracy, is under threat. There is an urgent need to nourish and sustain the emerging investigative journalism ecosystem to better serve the public. The Investigative News Network Formation
    19. 19. Recognizing, that there are many forms of potential collaboration: <ul><li>Editorial , which at the least could be doing joint accountability journalism projects, publishing on the same day on multiple websites with other, multimedia partners, which would entail efficient, shared information, reporting and synchronous editing; </li></ul><ul><li>Administrative , exchanging information about necessary organizational “back office” functions such as employee benefits, health care and general liability insurance, libel review and insurance, directors and officers insurance, etc., and perhaps even centralizing some of these functions to increase efficiencies; and </li></ul><ul><li>Financial , at a minimum, exchanging development-related information and even jointly fundraising, at the most, pioneering new economic models to help to monetize the shared, combined content of the member organizations, in order to achieve a more sustainable journalism </li></ul>The Pocantico Declaration/ cont ’d
    20. 20. Investigative News Network
    21. 22. Editorial Collaboration 2 nd Place 2010 Phillip Meyer Journalism Award
    22. 23. Investigative Journalism Today <ul><li>An increase in nonprofit investigative journalism organizations that partner with legacy newsrooms to produce meaningful work </li></ul><ul><li>Investigative and enterprise reporting growth as a key distinguishing feature of newsrooms that prosper in 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>A wider range of “investigative” work that can be delivered on many platforms, including mobile, social media and through micro-local Web networks </li></ul>
    23. 24. Investigative Journalism Today/ cont ’d <ul><li>New collaborations between computer scientists, statisticians, citizen journalists and news professionals </li></ul><ul><li>A need for all journalists to learn new skills in social media and database reporting </li></ul><ul><li>Continued fallout from the WikiLeaks controversy & a Federal Govt hell-bent on prosecuting whistleblowers is making it harder to get information, including public records </li></ul>
    24. 25. Andy Hall <ul><li>Executive Director Wisconsin Center for Investigative Reporting </li></ul>
    25. 26. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism <ul><li>• nonprofit </li></ul><ul><li>• nonpartisan </li></ul><ul><li>• collaborative </li></ul><ul><li>• free content </li></ul><ul><li>• statewide focus </li></ul><ul><li>• public service mission </li></ul><ul><li>• funded mostly by foundations (but earning our keep more all the time) </li></ul>
    26. 28. Ethics roundtable report findings <ul><li>Nonprofit journalism centers must: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>remain true to their goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>be transparent about who is funding them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>establish guidelines for handling conflicts of interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>communicate with potential supporters to maintain public confidence in these emerging experiments in journalism </li></ul></ul>
    27. 29.   <ul><li>Statewide </li></ul><ul><li>coverage that's </li></ul><ul><li>heavy on  </li></ul><ul><li>• data, </li></ul><ul><li>• collaborations, </li></ul><ul><li>• wacky visualizations, </li></ul><ul><li>• local angles, </li></ul><ul><li>• storytelling. </li></ul>
    28. 30. Some of our work ... <ul><li>  </li></ul>
    29. 31. How we used data in recent stories:  <ul><li>• located century-old contaminated gas plants </li></ul><ul><li>• found sex offenders who live in nursing homes </li></ul><ul><li>• found Wisconsin counties most vulnerable to Medicaid cuts </li></ul><ul><li>• answered whether the governor was telling the truth about his inbox, and found certain very interesting emails within </li></ul><ul><li>• found remarkably high suicide rates among Native Americans </li></ul><ul><li>• discovered a widespread, little-reported problem of deer on runways </li></ul>
    30. 33. • look at disparities between counties or regions, demographic groups, years (county maps) • connect the dots (sex offenders + nursing home licenses) • help people find elements of statewide stories in their own back yards Some templates for thinking about it:
    31. 34. TESTING A CLAIM Governor Scott Walker ... said his office has gotten &quot;over 8,000 emails&quot; over the last few days and &quot;the majority are telling us to stay firm, stay strong, to stand with the taxpayers.&quot; — Isthmus , Feb. 17
    32. 35. O RLY?
    33. 36. Step 1:  What do we have?  What format is it in? (This was before they realized they forgot some, and provided a third disk .... )
    34. 37. Step 2: Get it into a format we can use. (failed: RegEx import into single spreadsheet ... ) a. Combine all emails into a single file —  b. Then break them up into individual emails.     • Python wizard • Automator script &quot;Combine text files&quot;(Mac) • Command-line   prompt (PC):  copy /b  *.txt newfile.txt
    35. 39. To name a few...
    36. 42. Another example <ul><li>  </li></ul>
    37. 43. Even on our media-only downloads page, visualizations help editors understand why they should care.
    38. 44. Some ways we don't want to use data: • to hurt people. :( ( what's not here: names )
    39. 45. Avoiding the perils: <ul><li>• Fact-check with humans. To a fault. </li></ul><ul><li>• Err on the side of disclosing flaws in the data. </li></ul><ul><li>• Make it easy to understand. </li></ul>
    40. 46. It's not all about data. But fancy stuff has to be usable! Which means :  • modular and easy to embed  • modestly sized (and resizable) • meticulously fact-checked
    41. 47. Josh Hatch <ul><li>Online Content Manager Sunlight Foundation </li></ul>
    42. 55. Jody Brannon <ul><li>National Director Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education </li></ul>
    43. 56. NEW MEDIA driving transparency Carnegie-Knight News21 is an alliance of 12 journalism programs that funds 93 journalism fellows each summer to report on deep topics and tell complex stories in innovative ways
    44. 58. Carnegie-Knight News21: The First 6 Years Incubator 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 ASU Food Safety Latino America Latino America Berkeley Food & Health Calif. Prisons Bay Transportation Elections Religion Security vs. Liberty Columbia Elderly Elderly Charter Schools Elections Religion Security vs. Liberty Maryland Food Safety Chesapeake Young Voters North Carolina Energy Energy Energy North-western Money & Politics Second-Gen Latinos Urban Youth Elections Religion Security vs. Liberty Southern Cal Money & Politics California in Crisis Southwestern Shifts Elections Religion Security vs. Liberty Syracuse Census Veterans Young & Tech
    45. 60. <ul><li>Excellent journalism </li></ul><ul><li>Placements/usage on other media/partners </li></ul><ul><li>Innovations worth sharing with industry </li></ul><ul><li>Traffic (page views) </li></ul><ul><li>Enriching audience & other journalists’ learnings </li></ul><ul><li>Acclaim for fellows & C-K News21 </li></ul>News21 Goals
    46. 61.
    47. 62. News21 can bundle stories, allowing specific collections to be directed to editors/audiences.
    48. 63. An editor enticed to a story can see the summary and related assets and click through to access the text and photos for use under Creative Commons.
    49. 64. Link to Explore & Compare A link to the Explore pages allows the reader to learn more about how the journalism was conducted without having to update the eight News21 sites after the students’ 10-week fellowship ends.
    50. 66. When it comes to databases & CAR Not easy to digest and provide smart context Next-Gen Journalists… … Any-Gen Journaists
    51. 69. Josh Hatch <ul><li>Online Content Manager Sunlight Foundation </li></ul>