Pitch: College Majors, Men & Women

Partnering with Rikki Reyna

Headline: Women now complete more college degrees than men – but what are they majoring in?

Slug – College Majors

Key Elements: Women are now completing more college degrees than men. What’s less widely know is what women are majoring in. Although women reached (and surpassed) equality in terms of college attendance and graduation rates in comparison to men, there still remains a large gender gap in terms of college major choice.

News Hook: There is a gender gap in the workforce, with men still making more money than women. This data shows another gender gap that exists – before men and women start their post-graduate careers.

Link to data: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/iere.12040/full

Gomez: pre-pitches 2

1. See whether there is a relationship between median household income in New York City and the presence of laundromats in certain areas. Does the availability of laundromats coincide with a particular range of income? Where are they most predominant and why?

I created a spreadsheet of the median household income in each Community District using data from www.infoshare.org. I got the locations of laundromats from https://data.cityofnewyork.us/Business/Laundromats/2zzj-3hqt

2. See whether there is a relationship between median household income in New York City and the presence of Green Markets in certain areas. Does the availability of these Green Markets coincide with a particular range of income? Where are they most predominant and why?

I created a spreadsheet of the median household income in each Community District using data from www.infoshare.org. I got the locations of laundromats from https://data.cityofnewyork.us/Business/GreenMarkets/ehhb-sebr



Pitch: Marijuana Policy in the U.S.

Partnering with Matt MacVey
Headline: The Economics of Marijuana
Slug: Weedonomics
Key elements: The country is in a major transitional phase on marijuana policy, not just at the state level but at the federal level as well within the Justice Department. Marijuana-related arrests cost taxpayers around $15 billion a year, and $75 million in New York City alone.  In comparison, estimates of tax revenue that the U.S. government would take in if marijuana was legalized and taxed is between $40 -$100 billion. This is also a unique issue because technically marijuana is still federally illegal, but each state is individually changing its own laws and as a result the nation is a patchwork of different marijuana policies. How much would legalizing marijuana affect the prison-system funded by taxpayer dollars, and how much would it affect the federal budget?  Where does each state currently stand with its marijuana policies?
News hook: This topic is very newsworthy since new things are happening in this area each week. We could look at this through the lens of Colorado and Washington’s new policies to see how the change is actually playing out on the state level, or we track the shift in policy around the country.

Pitch: LGBT Visibility on TV

Partnering with Jillian Eugenios

Headline: LGBT On TV – Who’s leading the way


Key elements: 2013 was a good year for LGBT visibility on TV, with a considerable increase in the quantity of characters. Leading the networks was Fox, with 42% of their primetime programming including some form of LGBT storylines. Conversely, CBS featured only 14%. As we settle into 2014, how are the networks fairing? Are the midseason debuts measuring up or dropping the ball? A well known issue with LGBT characters on TV is their rapid rate of death, we could dig into those numbers and see how long their arcs last. Are they actually dying at an alarmingly higher rate?

News Hook: In the coming months, some of the most praised LGBT inclusive shows such as Orphan Black and Orange Is The New Black premiere their sophomore seasons. Will they keep up their much-praised representation in the new year?

 Link to data: http://www.glaad.org/files/2013NRI.pdf

Trauma charges in Florida

This graphic from the Tampa Bay Times is the result of a yearlong investigation into  what different trauma centers (a type of hospital) in Florida charge.


There are a few things I really like about this graphic. One, it’s relatively simple. It traces similar metrics (costs for x procedure) across the same institutions. It’s a nice simple color scheme. And it’s not too busy at the outset–but you can click on individual names to get more detailed information.

I think it’s a good example of using clear, straightforward graphics to make the point that some phenomenon has no clear justification. Health care costs are notorious for this–there is no rhyme or reason for them.

When you click through the years, some clear patterns are visible–in particular, that the cost keeps rising through the years.

One gripe I have is about the color-coding on the map. The middle range (which indicates for-profit centers that are not HCA) is indistinguishable on my computer from the nonprofit. They could easily have expanded the color range (or at least tested the graphic on a few different monitors).

Also, when you click through different procedures, the y-axis changes! This is fairly annoying and I think unnecessary–there isn’t a HUGE amount of variation in costs.

Pitch: Literacy among New York City adults

From Jillian Eugenios (partner Maddy Hartman)

A proposed title or headline

Millions in funding,  but adult literacy in NYC still lags

A story slug — up to three words that capture the essence of your story

Adult literacy

Key elements

1.8 million adults in New York City lack English proficiency, and only a small percent have access to publicly-funded classes. According to the city budget, $24 million will be allocated every year over the next three years to fund these classes.
With only 4 percent of those in need actually accessing the classes, which neighborhoods are underserved, and why?

A news hook, or explanation of why this story matters now

  • Though there was a peak in 2010, annual allocations to adult literacy programs since then have been reduced by over $6.5 million. That represents a loss of close to 7,000 classroom seats.
  • New York State recently replaced the GED with the new TASC, which aligns more with Common Core. That switch means that adult students now need to adapt to the new test, but without increased support they will fall even more behind.

Links to data


New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy


LaGuardia Community College – Center for Immigrant Education and Training


Turning Point, a community-based organization located in Sunset Park and Red Hook that serves all of Brooklyn


Union settlement



CartoDB Walk Through

In 2011, the BLS published a map of fatal workplace injuries by state.

Are these colors continuous or categorical? Should they be? Is anyone surprised that CA and TX have a lot of workplace injuries? How can we improve on this?

So we’ll recreate it:
BLS Fatality Data (csv)
2011 Population Estimates (via census.gov)

Combine those two in a spreadsheet, first. Use “Save As” to create a new spreadsheet so you don’t clobber your data.

Use =find() to confirm that state names match. They will until ~New York

Use =G10/E10 to get fatalities per capita, talk about scientific notation, then =(G10/E10)*100000 for per 100,000

Upload to CartoDB

Upload the CSV to CartoDB. Now you need a shapefile. Get a US State file from NationalAtlas.gov or NOAA or this much, much smaller file from GeoCommons. (Use the KML, the shapefile doesn’t have a projection)

GoogleMaps will only take KML files, CartoDB will take ShapeFiles or KML, but don’t use Safari — a shapefile is a bundle of database files, you don’t want to unzip it.


CartoDB used to make merging harder but they’ve worked a few things out.

Keep both open: what columns can we use to combine these two?

CartoDB has a good explanation of the join process. It isn’t actually straightforward.

UPDATE fatalities_per_capita
SET the_geom =  us_states.the_geom
FROM us_states
WHERE us_states.state = fatalities_per_capita.state

This works for me because my BLS data is in a table called fatalities_per_capita, my state boundaries are us_states, and in both tables the state names are in a column called “state.”


Use the wizard first. Bubbles for population, color for percapita.

What do methods mean? Learn This was a little buggy but might be fixed by now.

Put it on a web page

Where to Find Boundary Files

How to Geocode

If you need to transform addresses into lat/lon pairs, you have a couple of options:

  • Fusion Tables will do it, but their terms of service say you have to use that data on a Google Map.
  • Geocoder.us Will do one address at a time, or you can pay for a batch
  • CartoDB gives you a bunch free and you can pay for more.
  • More suggestions

Festival of Data – Smiley


This is an interactive visualization on The Guardian where the Twitter Data team and Datablog editor Simon Rogers show the response Obama’s SOTU speech by US geography and subject. For the subject graph, they have a timeline starting at 9:15 and ending at 10:20 pm. documenting the use of the 9 most popular hashtags used in one minute intervals. They also have the entire speech transcribed, and when you scroll down it will highlight a segment of the speech and show the what hashtags were being used during that time in the map above.

It also breaks down the speech by geography. So, when you’re hovered over a certain part of the speech, a map on the right side will show you how engaged each state was with each hashtag at that particular moment.

I think this is interesting because it maps out social media data in a way that shows what Americans (who use Twitter) found most important about the SOTU and in what states. I think the biggest thing missing in this interactive is the fact that there are no hard numbers.