Most popular inewsource Data Center posts in 2017

Most popular inewsource Data Center posts in 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, we’re highlighting our top five databases of the year, as measured by pageviews. In all, these databases include more than 12.3 million data points on topics ranging from education and specialized taxes to details about fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Much of this was possible due to the inewsource Data Center, which launched in April. The Data Center provides a sleek and responsive platform to engage readers on any device. But it’s much more than a repository. It’s a centralized place where readers can explore data, download it, read the accompanying articles, and view and listen to the rich multimedia elements that set inewsource apart in San Diego.

This type of reporting takes time and resources to produce, and we’re committed to continue serving as your go-to source for precision-based analyses on issues that affect San Diegans. Our mission of transparency and accuracy ensures every major data project is accompanied by methodology articles that explain and define our process.

We’d love your feedback on how we can continue improving the Data Center, and what you’d like to see more of in the year ahead. For questions or comments, email inewsource Director of Data and Visuals Brandon Quester: brandonquester@inewsource.org.

No. 1: Remedial classes: A community college ‘segregation machine’

Our most recent project was also our most widely viewed for the year. A first-ever analysis of remedial classes across California’s 114 community colleges revealed stark differences about which students make it out of remedial coursework, particularly among black and Latino students. The months-long analysis was a collaboration of inewsource reporters Brad Racino and Brandon Quester and The Hechinger Report’s Meredith Kolodner.

In addition to on-the-ground reporting, inewsource created a searchable database that shows pass rates in remedial classes, broken down by race and college over two years — the typical time it takes a student to earn an associate’s degree. We also created an interactive application that allows users to search their address or ZIP code to see nearby community colleges and compare their pass rates.

No. 2: America’s Wall: Decades-long struggle to secure U.S.-Mexico border

inewsource and KPBS partnered for an in-depth look at the existing infrastructure that separates the U.S. and Mexico. Specifically, we wanted to know what fencing exists today, when it was built and how today’s modern structure fits into President Donald Trump’s call to spend billions to further fortify the southern border. The collaboration, which included inewsource reporters Leonardo Castañeda and Brandon Quester, and KPBS reporter Jean Guerrero, relied primarily on previously undisclosed data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The reporting spanned from California to Arizona to Mexico and culminated in “America’s Wall.” The project included five data visualizations that layered fencing data with Border Patrol staffing and apprehensions. It also included a map detailing every piece of fencing and when it was constructed going back to 1962.

No. 3: State admits posting faulty schools data, promises revisions

While reporting about pass rates for Advanced Placement test scores in California, inewsource reporter Megan Wood discovered data from the California Department of Education was off by 350,000 tests.

The incorrect data — used by parents, school officials and policymakers to compare school performance — prompted changes to the Department of Education’s data portal, including a new system to notify the public about data updates. The reporting completed an inewsource set of standardized testing databases that include ACT and SAT scores.

No. 4: Mello-Roos: The tax you choose

For nearly 30 years, specialized districts across California have collected Mello-Roos taxes, with some homeowners paying into as many as seven separate districts. inewsource spent nearly six months collecting, cleaning, analyzing and mapping these taxes throughout San Diego County.

These specialized taxes are tacked onto property bills in newer housing developments to pay for infrastructure such as schools. This project features a searchable, interactive map with more than 12.2 million data points and 100,000 parcels within the county’s Mello-Roos districts. Homeowners can search their address to see which districts they pay into and how much they’ve paid over the past five years.

Did we mention that the map loads in less than two seconds?

No. 5: Poverty in San Diego County higher than during Great Recession

Former inewsource reporter Joe Yerardi crunched numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and found that although more San Diegans were finding work, more were also falling into poverty.

The analysis showed that across San Diego County, the poverty rate grew from 12.3 to 14.5 percent, or an increase of 94,000 people living below the poverty line. Yerardi also created several data visualizations and an interactive map allowing readers to explore poverty rates within their neighborhoods.

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We'll let you know when big things happen.

About Brandon Quester:

Brandon Quester is director of data and visuals at inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email brandonquester [at] inewsource [dot] org.