Individual Portfolio: Sisi Wei

Individual Portfolio: Sisi Wei

Organisation: ProPublica (United States)

Publication Date: 04/09/2016


Size of team/newsroom:large


Sisi Wei is a News Applications Developer at ProPublica. Her projects in 2016 spanned many subjects, from military reporting to U.S. higher education. In each she used her skills to tell stories using large data sets; stories that helped readers understand their world and see how large and diffuse national phenomena relate to them personally. In Surgeon Scorecard, she created a visualization scheme that let people see a doctor’s surgery record along with the statistical uncertainty inherent in any such analysis. Debt by Degrees gave parents and students a crucial resource about college affordability but simultaneously taught everybody who used it something important about the ways that colleges are supporting — or, far too often, failing to support — their poorest students. Money as a Weapons System let readers “browse the miscellaneous bin” of a jumble of strange and often wasteful projects funded by commanders during the Afghanistan war. In addition to making the data understandable and addictive to browse, Sisi built a system that let the reporter write her story with a much fuller and more real time understanding of how her narrative fit into the interactive. In partnership with her colleagues, Sisi also created a newsgame that gave readers a better understanding of the scale of wasteful spending in Afghanistan by pairing failed projects up against tax cuts, social programs and other domestic initiatives that we could have done instead.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

In addition to finding new ways to integrate the work of reporters, Sisi’s projects are inventive, apply technologies in new ways, and are damn well designed. Just as with her colleagues at ProPublica, Sisi’s work isn’t just data for data’s sake. She tells important, meaningful and true stories with data.

Technologies used for this project:

Ruby, Rails, Javascript, HTML/CSS, ArchieML
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