A non games-related post
Explainer: I was asked to write a post regarding three online databases and answer a series of questions regarding potential stories a well-wired reporter could track down.
Your Town – Boston has an abnormally large number of renter-occupied housing units compared to the rest of the state, but seeing a map of where these units are located statewide would be an interesting piece with data you could likely get from local inspectional service departments.
The presentation should probably group areas by 1,000 units of housing rather than actual buildings, show how many of those homes are rented versus owner-occupied and could possibly have an additional filter to show the median monthly rent for each area.
Encouraging owner-occupancy pops up occasionally during city council elections, so giving voters a chance to grade their incumbent councilors would probably generate a large number of hits.
Eye on the Stimulus – There are two truths about living in New York. You will ride the subway and you are likely to bring a newspaper for the ride. As a result, I think a story covering the investments made to the county’s transportation department would make for a strong story.
The transportation department is receiving $1.6 billion in stimulus funding, more than any other department and double it’s closest competition in health and human services. Funding is going towards everything from new doors at grand central to bomb-proofing underwater commuter rail tunnels, but as a Lower East Sider, the $423.3 million going to the MTA for a new Fuller Street Transit Center probably stands out as the most important story.
The new station will connect 10 lines that are notoriously difficult to travel between. Additionally, the grant is meant to encourage new retail space above the station and could turn the Fuller Street and Broadway area into a new business center similar to what happened around Union Square in the past two decades.
There doesn’t seem to be an end to the kind of stories you could squeeze out of this grant alone. Real estate in the area will jump in value, older or lower profile businesses could be pushed out for new development, countless man-on-the-streets about how commutes will change and how more tourists will pass through the area and of course a story on how traffic and general rage caused by the construction will likely make Fallujah look like the happiest place on earth in comparison.
Toxic Waters – I found the Ravenswood Generating Station in Queens, which supplies about 20 percent of the power for the entire city racked up 30 water pollution violations between 2004 and 2008 and that only three of those violations involved failure to submit reports.
The station went online in 1965 and was famous at the time for having the largest electrical generators in the world. In 2008 the station was sold from National Grid to a Canadian company called TransCanada for $2.9 billion according to a TransCanada report and has apparently resulted in no code violations since ownership was changed.
As a local reporter, I would expand my research to other local National Grid-owned power plants and find out whether these regulatory failures are a common happening for the company. The area this plant occupies is historically a politically under-represented part of Queens but the power plant can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, which would likely draw readers from more than the area immediately surrounding the plant.