The largest development with The Texas Tribune’s data efforts in 2013 may have been a structural one — Travis Swicegood, previously director of technology, joined data reporters Becca Aaronson and Ryan Murphy to formally create the Texas Tribune news apps team. With the addition of Dan Hill in January of 2014, the team heads into the new year four people strong and looking forward to a busy election season and to giving some of the Trib's classic data apps a facelift.
The 83rd legislative session commanded a majority of the data/news apps team's attention in 2013. Health care reporter Aaronson produced interactives on the potential effects of Medicaid expansion and helped readers determine where they stood on the issue.
During the session, the team partnered with reporters to prepare a number of subject-based bill trackers that made it easier to track where bills were in the legislative process. We also took a look at which former politicians were trying their hands at lobbying and visualized where Texas stands on financial disclosure compared with other states. The team also built a tool that let readers vote on which lawmakers were the best and worst during the 140-day session.
In addition to session coverage, we also built a full-screen map that allows the exploration of more than 7,000 fracking disposal wells in the state, and provided an explorer for the more than 10,000 lessons in the state-run education center cooperative known as CSCOPE, which legislators decided to eliminate.
In November, we provided live updates of the results of the constitutional amendment election throughout the night. The next day, we showed how the vote results on Proposition 6 — which will take $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to finance water projects — overlaid with statewide drought conditions on Election Day.
On the major app front, the tech team added cross-filters to the public education explorer, making it possible do advanced queries of the data. And with the help of some capable interns, our ethics explorer now includes federal lawmakers.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/12/31/year-review-data-and-news-apps/.