Homework Week 2 (Due Feb 14)

Pitches for your first story are due next week, and you have two spreadsheet exercises to power through. And everyone needs to sign up for a Festival of Data slot.

Answer a handful of specific questions using data that Slate published alongside How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown? and I download the CDC’s data on firearm deaths and find something to say about those numbers.

Pitches

Post pitches for your first team story on the blog in the “Pitches” category.

A complete pitch should tell us who cares, why we care now, and what pre-reporting you’ve done. You must include…
+ a proposed title or headline
+ a story slug — up to three words that capture the essence of your story
+ a list of the story’s key elements
+ a news hook, or explanation of why this story matters now
+ a description of and link to the data (which means you have to find your data!)
+ one source you have already spoken with or at least three potential expert sources and your plans for reaching them

Spreadsheet Homework

Part 1: Slate spent one year maintaining a list of people killed by guns since the shootings in Newtown, CT just weeks before Christmas 2012. Download that data and use pivot tables and/or spreadsheet formulas to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the most common victim age?
  2. How many people of that age were killed by a firearm?
  3. What’s the average age of a US shooting victim since December 2012?
  4. Which state had the highest number of shooting victims?
  5. In the state you found for #4, how much more likely are males to die by firearm than females (at least as far as this data is concerned — you can express this as a percent Men are 200% more likely to die by firearm than women or as a multiplier three times as many men…)
  6. Which state had the highest number of female shooting victims?

Part two: The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control maintains a database of fatal injuries in the U.S. Search their database by the following criteria:

  • Manner: Violence Related
  • Cause or Mechanism: Firearm
  • Census Region: United States (default)
  • Race: All Races (default)
  • Sex: Both Sexes (default)
  • Years: 2010-2010
  • Hispanic Origin: All (default)
  • Ouptut: Standard Output (default)
  • All Ages (default)
  • Use 2000 as the Standard Year (default)
  • Output Groups:
    1. Age
    2. Race
    3. Sex

You’ll find a link to “Download Results in a Spreadsheet (CSV) File” at the bottom of the page. Explore the data, try some pivot tables in this data, or tweak the “Manner” to limit your results to Suicides or Homicides or … how do you think accidents are filed here?

Write 50-100 words in the form of a nutgraf or a pitch to an editor who doesn’t already know that you’re a great writer describing some findings that warrant further reporting. Don’t over think it too much, but don’t forget to look up some population numbers so you’re not comparing apples and oranges. Something along these lines is fine:

California might be the most populous state, but West Virginia leads the way in gun homicides. … gun deaths in West Virginia made the news last year, compared to … in California. Teenage boys were most vulnerable — nationwide … boys between x and y were killed by guns.

Install Refine and Filezilla

If you haven’t already done so, you should also download and install Refine and Filezilla (even if you already have an FTP client that you like). If you get an error like “Refine is damaged and can’t be opened. You should move it to the Trash,” the solution to is not at all intuitive: You have to Change your Privacy and Security settings to allow applications downloaded from “Anywhere” — it’s on the “general” tab.

Festival of Data

Sign up for a Festival of Data slot.

One thought on “Homework Week 2 (Due Feb 14)”

  1. Paragraphs I’ve got so far:

    1) While far more American men than women die by firearms, women become more likely to die by gunfire as they get older. The two deadliest ages for women–calculated by the rate of gun deaths–is 83 and 81. Men, by contrast, are most likely to die by gunfire in their twenties.

    2) In 2010 Asians and Pacific Islanders were the most likely to leap to their deaths while, American Indians were the most likely to suffocate themselves while whites were the most likely to poison themselves. However in 2010 the majority of suicides were committed with firearms. And out of almost 20,000 who did in 2010. 92% were white.

    3) Most adolescents enter high school at the age of 14, an age that suffered 94 gun deaths in 2010. That number grows more than 550 percent by the time students graduate from high school with 615 18-year-old victims of gun violence in the same year. Broken down by gender, at the age of 18 females
    account for only six percent of total victims. What accounts for this gender disparity?

    4) Most adolescents enter high school at the age of 14, an age that suffered 94 gun deaths in 2010. That number grows more than 550 percent by the time students graduate from high school with 615 18-year-old victims of gun violence in the same year. Broken down by gender, at the age of 18 females
    account for only six percent of total victims. What accounts for this gender disparity?

    5) Nationwide, twenty-somethings are nearly three times as likely to die by firearm than teenagers. In 2010, 7,109 twenty-somethings died by firearm compared to 2,383 teenagers who did. With teenage violence being a major issue in society, I think these statistics warrant further reporting. Since crime rates only go up after teenage years, maybe it goes to show
    that as a society we aren’t doing enough to curb teenage violence and therefore once teenagers grow older and gain more independence, money, and access to weapons, this could be a reason why the firearm death rate rises.

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