August 2016 to February 2017
While at the Bangor Daily News, one of my colleagues noted that Maine's infant mortality rate, the number of babies who die in their first year of life compared to all babies born, is unusually high. I looked into the numbers and found that Maine was the only state to have more infant deaths in this decade than in the last. Then, I found out that a state panel charged with investigating infant deaths wasn't doing its job.
Here is the first article on the topic that I co-wrote with my editor, Erin Rhoda.
Here is my follow-up, when the Maine DHHS responded to my Freedom of Access Act request for information and I found out the panel had been inactive for two and a half years
Here is a story that my colleague, Matt Stone, wrote about the aftermath. The panel is scheduled to meet in March after nearly three years of inactivity.
October to December 2017
Amazon's bidding frenzy for a second headquarters coincided neatly with my internship at the government transparency nonprofit MuckRock, so I set to work filing freedom of information requests with towns from Alaska to Florida, asking for copies of the bids submitted to Amazon. I filed more than a hundred requests, and we received nearly 50 bids. Many municipalities withheld their bids, but we hoped to provide local reporters with both a roadmap for analyzing the bids and the bids themselves where we could.
a rift in the woods
While at the Bangor Daily News I worked on a series called Rural Edges, where we looked at how the transition to a service industry has shaken rural places in Maine. The changes to the logging industry in Maine typify this struggle, and loggers can move in a few directions: mechanize with efficient and costly equipment, keep cutting wood the old way as craftsmen, or get out.
That multimedia story is here.
When I joined the Maine Focus team at the Bangor Daily News, they had already done excellent work on one of Maine's most pressing issues: the opiate epidemic. What they hadn't yet done is examine preventing addiction, so we did that. First, though, we realized there wasn't really any information about what schools in Maine were doing to prevent addiction. So we asked! We sent out a survey to administrators at almost every public school in Maine, and we created an event to ask teenagers what adults can do to better help keep them safe. I also wrote about what's going on with the most famous drug abuse prevention program, D.A.R.E., and the one thing that can keep a kid safe, a mentor.
Here is the whole project.
At the Bangor Daily News I created several data visualizations using Tableau. Here are four of my favorites. The data for these visualizations was gathered collaboratively by the Maine Focus team at the time: Erin Rhoda, Matt Stone, Rosie Hughes, Danielle McLean and myself.
Here is a map showing the population change in Maine counties from 2000 to 2015.
Here is a map showing local school costs per student.
Here is a map showing vacancy rates in Maine towns.
Here is a chart that compares local school costs and poverty rates in Maine towns. See below, but it's only interactive through the link.
Interview with a climate scientist
Following the 2016 presidential election I spoke with Jennie Stephens, Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy at Northeastern’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, to discuss her hopes and fears for the new administration.
Here is that Q & A.