Um Yes, Hello ...
I'm Brandon (he/him), an independent data journalist with a focus on open source software development and applying computational techniques to watchdog, data-heavy investigative projects. I'm based in Washington State and consult for news organizations locally, nationally and internationally. You can find some of my work here.
My recent projects include the development of an introductory course about the responsible use of AI for journalism with the London School of Economics and Political Science, the extension of Datasette with Newsday as part of their Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge grant and an ongoing investigation into law enforcement misconduct in WA. I've done various projects with ProPublica (Electionland, Nonprofit Explorer and Collaborate), Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Associated Press, the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Dictator Alert and By The Bay.
I'm also interested in journalism technology research, which has led me to develop a next-generation web scraping tool and present at conferences, including Computation + Journalism Symposium 2019, Data Science+Journalism at KDD 2017, and NICAR. Got a wild idea for an investigative project? Contact me! I love to collaborate.
Back in 2013, I was doing data journalism at The Austin Bulldog, an investigative non-profit based in Austin, Texas. I wrote tools to automate routine investigative tasks like full background investigations of political candidates, scraped large datasets, and wrote distributed grid searches. I led the research on a 6-month local tax-evasion story (part1) (part2). Our work resulted in the recovery of hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes and a closure of the tax loop-hole. It was during this investigation that I first saw the power of applying new techniques to old journalistic problems. That same year I was a finalist in the CIJ/IRE’s "Follow the Money" campaign finance data mining contest and I spoke at NICAR 2013 in Louisville, KY. On the first night, because I couldn't afford a hotel, I slept on the roof of an abandoned building. Then it snowed. That's how badly I wanted to be there.
When I'm not near a computer, you can usually find me at Seattle 2600 or walking my rescue pittie, Kisses, and her adopted siblings, Muddy and Bleppie.
Email is the best way to contact me: 791b0b18171d1617391b010b161b1c0b0d0a57160b1e. If you prefer encrypted communications, my key is below. I'm on twitter @bxroberts and I have a (very low volume) mailing list for updates about projects I'm involved in:
🔗 PGP Key
You can encrypt mail to me using my public key. (NOTE: I have a new key as of Nov 1, 2021 with ID
0x91ECCA231535C682. Here's a version of my new key signed with my old key, in case you have my old key and want to verify it.)
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