Reporter's Toolbox

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Toolbox is a biweekly column focused on the world of data journalism, with an emphasis on data tools, techniques and database resources that journalists can use to improve their environmental reporting. 

 

February 5, 2020

  • It may be time to dive into the deep end of the ocean for environmental stories, where big vessels and small are often involved in spills, illegal fishing or more. The latest Reporter’s Toolbox looks into emerging ship-tracker services that offer data to help trace the source of environmental damage, and that can help create some eye-popping visuals.

January 22, 2020

  • As public concern about climate change grows, journalists face tough challenges in telling the story well, argues one climate communications expert. But as the climate beat takes on increased urgency, new means are becoming available to better report it, including localized content, explainers and workshops. Tap into these expanding climate resources. Plus, tips on climate “talk.”

December 4, 2019

  • If radon is the forgotten environmental health story, per our recent TipSheet, then at least journalists ready to report have some good resources to do it. Our latest Reporter’s Toolbox details several databases that provide invaluable info on the problem, including a new comprehensive, and mappable, database from the Centers for Disease Control.

November 20, 2019

October 30, 2019

  • When it comes to telling environment and energy stories, especially about place and scale, data visualizations can turn an average story into a standout. Reporter’s Toolbox takes a look at some recent examples of inspiring data-mapping projects that provide insight into everything from auto emissions and floods to vanishing rivers and whipping winds.

October 16, 2019

  • The latest impeachment scandal engulfing the White House demonstrates how a big story can be triggered by a whistleblower. But it’s not just in the world of politics. Whistleblowers can bring hidden stories into the spotlight in the environment and energy fields too, including one involving Energy Secretary Rick Perry (left). The latest Reporter’s Toolbox looks at how reporters can work smartly with whistleblowers, with advice and resources.

October 2, 2019

  • Compelling pipeline stories can be found throughout the United States, but first you need to know where the pipelines are. The latest Reporter’s Toolbox looks at the best source of pipeline data, which offers a wealth of government information on location, incidents and enforcement. But there are caveats as well.

September 18, 2019

  • Wind turbines are everywhere in the United States these days. And now a growing database allows you to track them down by the thousands so you can better report the burgeoning wind energy beat. The latest Reporter’s Toolbox tells you who’s behind this invaluable database, plus smart ways to use it for your coverage.

September 4, 2019

  • Permanent funding could soon be in store for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal program that buys local land and water conservation areas. That means local stories about nearby recreation areas may abound. The latest Reporter’s Toolbox explains more, and points to databases and other resources to help locate those projects.

August 7, 2019

  • For environmental journalists covering this summer’s record-high temperatures, finding accurate data on local temperature extremes is key. Our latest Reporter’s Toolbox helps you locate the source of local data via the National Weather Service, then walks you through how to pinpoint your area’s numbers for high temperatures and for heat-related extremes.

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