RTDNA award

My story from last year on the relationship between problem gamblers and the presence of a casino in a community won an RTDNA award yesterday. The starting point was the postal codes of self-excluded gamblers – people who are so desperate to keep themselves out of casinos that they’re willing to volunteer to be charged with trespassing.

What is problem gambling? The point where an exciting hobby becomes a life-eating compulsive nightmare is debatable, but the 17,860 people who have volunteered for Ontario’s casino self-exclusion program are problem gamblers by any definition.

All over Ontario, self-excluded gamblers are concentrated near casinos and racetracks, which implies that living close to a gambling opportunity led them to develop a serious gambling problem.

… The downtown Windsor postal code that houses the mammoth Caesar’s casino is also home to 248 self-excluded gamblers, which is just over 1 per cent of the population. In Windsor, self-excluded gamblers cluster around the casino site, with fewer of them found the further you get from downtown.



Another story of mine was shortlisted for the Prairie data storytelling RTDNA award; this very strong story from CBC Manitoba won, which was well-deserved.

Mapping gentrification

For a series on real estate, I mapped gentrification using tax data based on postal codes, comparing 2004 to 2013. The theory was: if low-income tax filers were vanishing from a postal area, it would indicate a pattern of gentrification in the period we were looking at. The Toronto map made intuitive sense (we looked at Toronto and Vancouver). The map shows the historic mixed-income neighbourhoods of the city’s east and west ends getting much less mixed-income over the decade.


Bringing the embedded tweets up to date

January and February

So, yes, I’m still with the embedded-tweet format:

Back in the saddle

I spent the last four months of 2015 on parental leave with this guy, who as you can see is a lot of fun. As of today, he’s at day care and I’m back at work.

One of the nice things about time off, for a journalist, is that you don’t stop having story ideas, so I have a long to-do list. I also found the time in November to file a small stack of ATIPs, FIPPA requests, whatever various jurisdictions call them, and I’m hoping these will start to come in in January. A busy winter ahead.

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has eaten several months’ worth of posts – I’m not sure why. Here’s a reconstruction, courtesy of the Wayback Machine –

I thought it was time to stop having this blog consist entirely of embedded tweets, but I’m going to start with an embedded tweet:

I’d never seen that map before, but presumably it’s an old story to people who pay attention to British political geography. It reminded me of this map, explained here, of Democratic votes in the Deep South, which track the map of 19th-century cotton production, which in turn track the shoreline of a sea from the Cretaceous era:

During the Cretaceous, 139-65 million years ago, shallow seas covered much of the southern United States. These tropical waters were productive–giving rise to tiny marine plankton with carbonate skeletons which overtime accumulated into massive chalk formations. The chalk, both alkaline and porous, lead to fertile and well-drained soils in a band, mirroring that ancient coastline and stretching across the now much drier South.

So here are presidential votes from 2008:

And cotton production in 1860, on the eve of the Civil War (map from here).