Analysis: Computer-Assisted Reporting

In NICAR's article about the flooding of the Red River in Fargo, multiple computer-assisted reporting techniques are used.
The article is providing resources for covering floods, and uses databases to help cover the flood, localize the story, and allow the reader to see how well-equipped their town is for a flood or other disaster. Tipsheets are also frequently used and cited throughout the article, providing quick and accessible information concerning the flood.
For the article, the writer would need a strong knowledge of databases. They are referenced multiple times, and are crucial for covering floods. Databases such as Storm Events, the National Inventory of Dams and the National Bridge Inventory are relevant resources to the article and the flood coverage.
Besides knowing how to access databases, knowing how to navigate them is crucial as well. They can sometimes be overwhelming, and the writer would need to know which databases to use and how to extract the most important information from them. Knowing how to use them properly will allow the writer to communicate why they are helpful, and explain the importance to the reader.

Driver flashes three young girls in Maplewood

Police are looking for a young man who exposed himself to three 9-year-old girls in Maplewood on Wednesday night, the Star Tribune reported.
The girls were playing in the area of Maple Lane and Standridge Avenue at about 7:30 p.m. when a car pulled beside them. The driver then exposed his penis, and yelled at them to "get in the car", according to police.
The man made no physical contact with the girls or attempt to pursue them any further.
The man is described as in his late teens, white, with curly bands and medium-length brown hair. He also may have some facial hair and a medium build, police said.
He was driving a silver four-door sedan with a black stripe along the side. The brand, model, and license plate number are not known, the Pioneer Press said.
Anyone with information or reports of suspicious activity should call the Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center at 651-767-0640.

Hot air balloon crash kills 2 near Dubai

Two people were killed after a hot air balloon carrying 14 people crashed Sunday morning in the desert in Dubai, the Associated Press reported.
Authorities said the accident happened at 6:45 a.m. near a pair of villages surrounded by farmland and about 45 miles south of Dubai.
At least two other people were injured in the crash, including a ground crew member from Tanzania, who is in serious condition.
The identities of the victims have not been released, but they are of Indian and French nationality, the New York Times said.
The other passengers were taken to a hospital in Al Ain, a nearby oasis city on the border of Oman.
The balloon was operated by Balloon Adventures Emirates, and a representative for the company said a sudden change of wind struck the balloon as it was landing. The balloon took off despite light winds, but gusts picked up greatly after takeoff, forcing an emergency landing.
The company has suspended flights for the coming days, and authorities are investigating the crash.

Oil rig blast in Louisiana leaving behind serious spill

The United States Coast Guard said Saturday that oil is leaking from a damaged well that fed a rig that exploded last week of the coast of Louisiana, the Star Tribune said.
The bad weather in the area has prevented clean-up efforts, and fears of the damage to the area's marine ecosystem have increased.
Officials say the leak could have begun as early as Thursday, only two days after the explosion, the New York Times reported.
The Coast Guard and officials estimate that more than 1,000 barrels of oil has escaped each day. A sheen of oil has grown at alarming rates as well, and now stretches over 20 miles wide and long on Saturday.
The rig could have as much as 700,000 gallons of diesel on board.
BP, which released the rig, has taken the lead in the cleanup and said it has started an oil spill response to clean up the spill.

Six killed in head-on crash near Cambridge

Six people, including three teenagers, were killed in a head-on crash west of Cambridge, the Pioneer Press reported.
The Minnesota State Patrol says one of the drivers, a 16-year-old girl who got her license less than three weeks ago, was hospitalized in serious condition.
According to the partrol, the 16-year-old was driving a car carrying four passengers headed west on Highway 95 when it collided with a sports utility vehicle heading east. No one in the car was wearing seat belts.
A patrol spokesperson said a 15-year-old-girl, two boys, ages 16 and 17 years old, and a 21-year-old man in that car were killed.
The two people who in the other vehicle, an Oldsmobile Bravada, also died and were severely burned, the Star Tribune said.
The crash occurred at 2:40 a.m., and the identities of the victims have not been released. The roads were wet at the time of the crash.

Woman shot dead, husband injured in St. Paul

A woman was shot dead and her husband was shot and seriously injured in a St. Paul home Sunday morning, the Star Tribune reported.
Police said the gunfire happened in the 1700 block of Minnehaha Avenue. The 25-year-old woman was killed and her husband, 27, was seriously wounded with a leg injury. The man was taken to Regions Hospital, where he was treated and released. He was then brought to police headquarters for questioning.
Sergeant Paul Schnell said no further details were known about the circumstances leading to the shooting or who fired the shots.
Police were notified of a suspected burglary around 6:30 a.m., and were informed of the shooting as they were on their way to the house, the Pioneer Press said.
Only the husband and wife were home at the time of the shooting. Schnell said.
"The circumstances of this shooting remain a major focus for investigators," Schnell said. "At this point, we simply do not have enough details to be able to speak with any certainty about the circumstances or the public risk."

Pope meets with abuse victims in Malta

Pope Benedict XVI met privately with a group of victims of sexual abuse by priests in Malta, the BBC reported.
The Pope expressed "shame and sorrow" over their plight, and had tears in his eyes during the emotional meeting.
The meeting took place at the end of the Pope's visit to Malta, and he met with eight Maltese men who said they were molested by priests as youth in the 1980's and 1990's in an orphanage.
"He prayed with them and assured them that the church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations," the Vatican said.
The church has recently come under scrutiny over allegations that it covered up sexual abuse of children by priests and failed to punish pedophile priests and removed them from working with children, the New York Times said.
This was the first time the Pope had met with alleged victims since the allegations came out this year.

Larry King to divorce for seventh time

Larry King filed for divorce on Wednesday from his seventh wife, Shawn King, the Associated Press reported.
Larry King filed only hours before Shawn King filed her own petition, citing "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for ending their 13-year marriage.
Larry King's spokesperson, Howard Rubenstein, told People magazine, "his major concern is the welfare of his children, and beyond that he's not going to comment about the divorce."
According to the divorce filing, Larry King is seeking shared custody of their two sons, Cannon, 9, and Chance, 11. He is also asking the court to deny his wife any spousal support. Shawn King is seeking sole custody of the children.
Rumors have circulated that an affair between Larry King and his wife's sisters was the reason behind the split, but Shawn King's sister denied this Wednesday.
The couple married in a hospital room in 1997 shortly before Larry King underwent surgery to clear a clogged blood vessel.

New York teen charged with threatening a school shooting

A 17-year-old boy from Long Island has been charged for threatening to go on a shooting spree at his old high school on the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, the New York Times reported.
Nathan Myres, of North Massapequa, was arraigned on a charge of making a terroristic threat on Saturday.
He attended Plainedge High School until he transferred to a special needs program earlier this year.
A teacher heard several students discussing a rumor that was circulating the school that a former student was planning an attack. The teacher told the principal, who in turn called the police.
Detective Lt. Kevin Smith said police have not found any weapons and it is possible Myers was just trying to scare former classmates.
Myers remained in custody Saturday, where his bail was set at $25,000, the Associated Press said.