Thomas Peele and Daniel J. Willis of the Bay Area News Group won the 2014 Data Journalism DFMie for their analysis of pay for public workers.
The nomination explains:
Each year, Thomas Peele and Daniel Willis painstakingly collect compensation data from hundreds of public agencies across Northern California to expose little-known perks for government employees that leave taxpayers fuming and seasoned watchdogs scratching their heads.
Their enterprising approach to government reporting starts with the mammoth task of badgering more than 600 agencies for data and managing hundreds of public records requests, then building a database for all to search at www.mercurynews.com/salaries. With fewer reporters covering city halls, Peele and Willis mine data to reveal the scope of ongoing government waste — a true public service.
Reporters Thomas Peele and Daniel Willis of the Bay Area News Group win the DFMie for best data journalism for surfacing Northern California’s excessive perks and salary for government employees. Thomas and Daniel collected and analyzed government employee compensation from more than 600 agencies. The data yielded stories about the BART’s top-paid worker of 2012 never worked a day and part-time job at the harbor commission that paid $1,100 an hour. They also created an easy-to-use database widget to search the compensation records. Without the data work, none of these stories would of been possible.
Stories submitted for judging included one documenting that Bay Area Rapid Transit’s top-paid worker of 2012 never worked a day, one about part-time workers getting up to $1,100 an hour and one on former part-time politicians getting taxpayer-funded medical benefits.
This is one of four DFMies for the Bay Area News Group.
About Thomas Peele
Peele is an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group, where he specializes in data and public records.
He has worked for newspapers since 1983 and won more than 50 journalism honors, including the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage and two Investigative Reporters and Editors awards.
He is also a lecturer at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and author of the 2012 book Killing the Messenger, about the 2007 murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey and the cult responsible for his death.
About Daniel J. Willis
Willis has been a data journalist for the Bay Area News Group since 2009. In that time he’s crunched numbers on such topics as public compensation, campaign finance, labor negotiations, demographics and education. On at least two occasions he’s been tear gassed. Prior to journalism he has been an information technology director and video game tester, and has a degree in economics with a focus on analysis and econometrics from the University of California Santa Cruz.
Other data finalists
Other finalists for data journalism were:
- Jennifer Swift of Connecticut Magazine for a map showing inequities in enforcing penalties for late payment of Connecticut car taxes.
- Ed Mahon of the York Daily Record for an analysis of complex interest-rate swaps by local school districts.