Ben Goessling and MaryJo Webster win data journalism DFMie

Headline: Target Field factor: Twins sluggers constantly battle stadium's wind currents
Outlet: Pioneer Press
Journalist: Ben Goessling and MaryJo Webster
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Ben Goessling and MaryJo Webster of the Pioneer Press win the DFMie for data journalism for their analysis of homeruns at Target Field, new home of the Minnesota Twins.

Their editors’ nomination explains the project:

Making excuses for the Minnesota Twins is a regional pastime. But, as in any good sports town, the excuses often come backed with nothing but air.

So Twins Writer Ben Goessling and Computer-Assisted Reporting Editor MaryJo Webster applied hard data to a wisp of a theory: Perhaps the Twins’ horrible home run production in their new ballpark had less to do with the oft-discussed “batter’s eye” and more to do with the wind.

Ben collected a massive amount of weather data and Twins’ data about home-run production. The result, paired with MaryJo’s knowledge, was a smart, interactive look at the topic that generated buzz among fans and pundits.

Judges explained why they chose the project as a winner:

Baseball is a game of stats – and the Pioneer Press delivered plenty of them for Twins fans to consider and debate in its excellent data-driven package on hitting and the wind at Target Field. The Pioneer Press team chose an original topic, mined it from every angle and presented what they found in a well-written story, a set of impressive graphics and game-by-game data summaries. And they didn’t just present the data; they used it to offer informed advice and commentary on how the Twins should harness the wind to their advantage.

Other data journalism finalists were:

Ben Goessling

Ben Goessling

Goessling joined the St. Paul Pioneer Press in December 2011, covering the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Twins, and became the paper’s Minnesota Vikings beat writer last fall. Prior to returning to the Pioneer Press, where he worked as a college intern, Ben covered the Washington Nationals for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and the Washington Times. He began his career at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where he covered high school sports, education and small business.

He lives in south Minneapolis with his wife and one-year-old daughter.

MaryJo Webster

MaryJo Webster

Webster has been the CAR editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press since 2005. Her primary role is to promote data journalism by developing stories — on her own and through teamwork with other reporters — and by providing training and access to data for others in the newsroom. She also developed and maintains the searchable data page, The Data Mine.

Webster shared in the DFMie for investigative journalism and was also a finalist for special contribution and interactive journalism. She is the only winner of two annual DFMies and the only four-time finalist.

Prior to coming to St. Paul, Webster was the sports database editor at USA Today. She also worked at the Center for Public Integrity, Investigative Reporters and Editors and several small daily newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

She lives in Arden Hills, Minn. with her husband and their 4-year-old twins.

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