Jun 10, 2009

Tracking failure (and success)

Database reporting is a somewhat new trend in Internet journalism. Publishers can track data changes over a period of time and provide readers with periodic updates, whether it be the latest homicide or broken promise.

In its relatively short lifespan, the nonprofit ProPublica has become a master of the database, compiling all of "midnight regulations" in the last days of the Bush presidency, for example. Yesterday, the news site launched the "DNA backlog tracker" that will monitor the progress five law enforcement agencies make, or don't make, in eliminating their backlogs of untested DNA evidence. The list includes two California agencies, the Los Angeles Police Department and California Department of Justice, as well as the FBI, Illinois State Police and Virginia Department of Forensic Science. ProPublica is taking suggestions for other agencies to add to the list.

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