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Posts Tagged ‘California Watch’

iPhone App, Children’s Coloring Book, Searchable Database Among Components Of California Watch’s Winning Project

The Center for Investigative Reporting and its online reporting initiative California Watch won the Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism for their “On Shaky Ground” series about earthquake safety at California public schools.

In addition to a three-part reporting series, On Shaky Ground included multiple online components that helped the organization earn the $5,000 prize. The project was published more than a year ago, but it’s such a good one that its worth recapping all the various elements.

The map and database

The investigation included a map and database component that lets users see whether a particular school is near a fault and whether construction there raised red flags.

If you remember the post I wrote about Brian Boyer’s tips for creating a usable app, the three questions he asks are 1) Who are our users? 2) What are their needs? and 3) How can we help them fulfill their needs? This app addresses each of those in a very usable way — readers can create their own stories through the data by seeing information that is particularly useful to them based on where their children go to school, or where they might work.

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28 GB Of Raw Data Went Into California Watch’s Award-Winning “Decoding Prime” Series

Of all the winners announced this week for the 63rd annual George Polk Award, California Watch’s “Decoding Prime” series is the one that catches my eye.

California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, is only in its third year of existence after launching in 2009. The organization is joined by long-established names on the winners list like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, ABC 20/20, Bloomberg and The Associated Press.

So how does one brand new organization compete with years of legacy? To start, try  51 million patient records — about 28 gigabytes of raw data. That’s how much information was analyzed for the yearlong series of investigative stories that revealed a pattern at a California-based hospital chain of billing Medicare for numerous rare medical conditions for high-paying bonuses. Read more

California Watch Enhances Reader Engagement With Redesign

California Watch, a reporting initiative launched by the Center for Investigative Reporting in 2009, officially unveiled its redesigned site today and to say it emphasizes reader engagement is an understatement. With a bevy of new features, such as an easier commenting system and adding Tweets automatically to the comment stream, you have to go out of your way to avoid interacting with the site.

“We really wanted to upgrade the viewer experience and our readers’ ability to interact with us,” said Mark Katches, editorial director for the Center for Investigative Reporting and California Watch.

But my favorite part of the redesign is the “React & Act” section. Much like a calendar section, this lists where and how readers can interact with the reporters who make up California Watch. For example, the site lists when reporter Joanna Lin will be participating in an Asian American Journalists Association workshop.

This takes down the invisible wall that can sometimes exist between journalists and their audience members. Remember, reporters are just people. It’s easy to forget this if you only read, in print or online, what someone writes — their byline is faceless. At the end of the day, reporters should want to hear from their readers — whether it be in person, via email, or by a phone call.

What other sites do you go to that encourage reader engagement?