Follow the Numbers

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Welcome to Follow the Numbers blog

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In the late 1980's, The News & Observer began acquiring, maintaining and analyzing electronic public records, such as state government phone calls, check registers and campaign contributions. Since then, we've acquired and analyzed hundreds of a variety of databases to help us produce the best investigative stories we can.

Over the years, technology and more transparency of public records have made this process a little easier. In fact, many public records are now available online for free or for a relatively low fee (property records, criminal records, vital health statistics, census data and business licenses, just to name a few).

This blog will take a closer look at how we use numbers and data analysis in our stories. We'll focus on facts and figures that may not make the front page but hopefully provide compelling insights into topics that impact our lives. For suggestions, questions or comments contact David Raynor.

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About the blogger

David Raynor is news research database editor at The News & Observer, which puts him in the middle of many of our major projects. Raynor works with reporters in acquiring, maintaining and analyzing data. Raynor joined The N&O in 1992. He has worked on many award-winning projects, including: a series about lax enforcement of speeding laws; a series on the failure of state mental health reforms; a series on how state programs failed to offset environmental damage from development; and a series on lax enforcement by the state's Industrial Commission regarding businesses without worker's compensation insurance. Contact him at or 919-829-4798