The Northern Virginia Daily

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April 2017 ‒ March 2019

I worked as a reporter at the small Virginia daily newspaper, covering the Town of Strasburg, health, and a variety of other beats. In addition to frequently writing pieces, I used my computational skills to tell stories and to more efficiently find stories. I wrote and scheduled scrapers to monitor local government websites, and I designed several graphics to display election results and to display the key findings of some of my stories.

Map showing county-by-county results for Tim Kaine's 2018 Senate win over the Republican challenger, Corey Stewart

I wrote the front-end and back-end code to display precinct-level election results for northwest Virginia during the 2018 midterms.

As part of this process, I requested precinct shapefiles from 27 localities in Virginia; cleaned and joined the shapefiles using PostgreSQL and PostGIS; wrote code in Python to scrape the results and push them to an AWS S3 bucket; and wrote front-end code in d3 to display the results. I additionally set up an EC2 instance and ran the Python script from there so the script could continue running even if something happened to my computer locally.

Map showing the locations of 260 breweries in Virginia in August 2018

In a one-year period, Strasburg, Virginia — a town of 6,000 people — saw two new breweries come in. A nearby town, Front Royal, also had a new brewery come in that year. I wanted to see what got the owners to start their breweries and why Virginia as a whole had seen such a large spike in the number of new craft breweries.

I interviewed people at two of the three new breweries in our region, helping me identify a new law that helped one of them come into existence. I also conducted some analysis in Python and built a visualization in d3 to demonstrate how fast the growth had been.

Map showing the median travel time to the nearest obstetric unit for every ZIP Code in Shenandoah, Warren, and Frederick Counties and the City of Winchester. Some travel times are close to an hour.

After our local hospital system announced it was cutting obstetric services from one of its hospitals, I wanted to know what impact the decision would have on the amount of time women would have to spend traveling to deliver a baby. I calculated the travel times to the nearest obstetric unit from each ZIP code in our region using Google Maps's API in Python and mapped the results using QGIS.

The change, I found, would mean that more women in our region would have to drive long distances -- with some having to travel close to an hour -- to deliver a baby at a hospital with a devoted obstetric unit.

In November 2017, an affidavit was unsealed in Frederick County, Virginia accusing five members of the Strasburg Fire Department, including the department chief, of having sex with a 17-year-old girl.

But despite the public accusations against him, I found through a public records request, the department's chief responded to five calls after the affidavit was unsealed.