The 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, raised many questions about police shootings, questions that could not be answered at the time because no one was collecting and analyzing complete data on police shootings.  The Washington Post assembled a team to address this situation.  They created a database of every fatal shooting in the United States by a police officer in the line of duty in 2015, updating it in real time based on new reports and police records.  Data were analyzed, stories written, and themes visualized for online reports. In 2016, the “Fatal Force” team was awarded a Pulitzer Prize “for its revelatory initiative in creating and using a national database to illustrate how often and why the police shoot to kill and who the victims are most likely to be”.

One member of the Fatal Force team was John Muyskens, a recent graduate of Calvin University with a degree in computer science.  As an undergraduate, John had taught himself D3.js (a javascript library for creating interactive data visualizations) and used his developing skills to create a number of visualizations for the online version of the student newspaper.  After graduation, he turned his programming skills and journalism experience a position at The Washington Post, where one of his early tasks was creating visualizations for the Fatal Force project.  More recently he has published on global warming, 2020 presidential candidates, and redactions in the Mueller report.

We are pleased to have John joining us at Big Data Ignite this year.  On Monday, John will be leading a full-day workshop on D3.js (including some necessary background in HTML/CSS/SVG/javascript). Sign up for the workshop to kickstart your learning of D3.js and begin creating beautiful, interactive visualizations of your data.

On Tuesday, John will be presenting as part of FOIA Fest.  Attend his session to hear about his role as a data journalist at The Washington Post and how he creates data visualizations that are both visually compelling and meaningful.