These recipes may be most helpful to journalists who are trying to learn programming and already know the basics. If you’re already an experienced programmer, you might learn about a new library or tool you haven’t tried yet.
Boyer’s team has built online programs to help families find the headstones of loved ones after cemetery caretakers double-sold plots, as well as an application to help parents compare schools. During a Tribune investigation into the problems created by a state policy of housing non-senior felons in nursing homes, Boyer saw reporters struggling to read thousands of government documents—they were considering narrowing the scope from statewide to just the Chicago area. So Boyer wrote a program that downloaded the documents from the web, exported the text, and searched for key words. In a few hours, he searched 44,000 documents and presented the investigative team with the 3,600 relevant to their research. His team then built an unprecedented database for the Tribunewebsite that allows readers to search for any nursing home in the state to see its record of reported crimes, violations, and the number of resident sex offenders and felons.