On Our Desk — Feb. 17, 2017

On Our Desk is a round-up of national or North Carolina news outlets using data to tell stories in innovative ways. Here’s what inspired us this week:


Story: How hollow rhetoric and a broken child welfare system feed Texas’ sex-trafficking underworld 

By: Morgan Smith, Neena Satija and Edgar Walters of the Texas Tribune

Data Used: Study by the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work. Legislation relating to human trafficking.

What we love: This story balances humanizing narratives with data to show how laws have failed to protect victims and prosecute traffickers. This story also shows how difficult it is to find reliable data on human trafficking in Texas, since Texas does not have a uniform policy on how the state and local agencies should collect data.


Story:  Town Hall Tracker 

By: The WNYC Data News Team

Data Used: Town hall meeting schedules, location data

What we love: We love stories that take data reporting a step further by giving readers tools they can use. In this case, readers in the metro NYC area can find congressional town halls based on their location. The application gives users information on who they will meet with, the town hall’s time, location and topic. Once readers go to the town halls, WNYC can find sources for stories by browsing the related hashtag on twitter.


Story: Oroville Dam Reached Capacity Faster Than Previous 16 Years 

By: Wynne Davis and Alyson Hurt of NPR

Data Used: California Department of Water Resources

What we love: This story takes a breaking news event and puts it in the context of a greater trend — a feat which can only be done by looking at historical data. Data from this story could allow readers to infer that more problems are ahead for the dam as we get into the summer months.


Story:  The United States of oil and gas 

By: Tim Meko and Laris Karklisof The Washington Post

Data Used: DrillingInfo.com; Bureau of Land Management; Energy Information Administration; Christopher D. Elvidge, Earth Observation Group, NOAA-NESDIS National Geophysical Data Center; Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

What we love: This story uses data to show how prevalent oil and gas drilling is in the U.S. While most coverage has been devoted to places like the Dakotas and Texas, the data shows how widespread the energy industry is across the United States.


Story: Cabinet nominees are getting more ‘no’ votes than ever 

By: Kevin Uhrmacher and Kevin Schaul of The Washington Post

Data Used: Historical nomination votes.

What we love: By using data, these reporters give credence to what many people suspected about Trump’s cabinet nominees. It also allows readers to look back at other contentious nominations by past administrations.


To submit your data stories for future On Our Desk roundups, email us at help@carolinadatadesk.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *