Pandemic data is about to go sideways: The Atlantic

Data about COVID-19 tends to dip following weekends and holidays—not because fewer people are getting sick, but because the doctors’ offices and public health departments that administer tests and process paperwork are shorter-staffed or closed. I wrote about why any drops in the data right around Thanksgiving don’t signal a true decline in infections, for The Atlantic.

Explaining the electoral college in the New York Times

How exactly does the electoral college work? My explainer is in the October 25, 2020 edition of the New York Times‘ Kids section. (The section isn’t available online, but here’s the Instagram version of the piece.)

Tracking the spread of COVID-19

The COVID Tracking Project is a collaborative data journalism effort, launched by The Atlantic in March 2020, that is tracking COVID-19 cases, tests, hospitalizations, deaths, among other metrics, in the United States. CTP is powered by a massive group of volunteers who comb through U.S. state and territory health departments’ dashboard every day to record data in a central place; all data is freely available to the public. CTP’s work has been widely cited by major news outlets, health experts, and government officials.

As co-lead for Editorial, I help manage story flow, editorial process, and write and edit stories about trends in the data. Here’s some of our recent work:

• CTP weekly updates for October 1, September 24, and September 17
• Why CTP’s death count hasn’t hit 200,000

Access to telemedicine is hardest for those who need it most: WIRED

Telemedicine has largely moved online during the pandemic, but elderly people, who make up 25 percent of all medical appointments, are less likely to have internet access at home. In this story for WIRED, I talked to physicians and policy experts to find out how the healthcare industry is addressing the problem. Among the creative solutions being deployed: A physician in North Carolina, where the rate of broadband penetration is the lowest in the country, extended her office’s wifi network so it reached the parking lot. Her patients can drive to the office, park, and get a sanitized tablet from a staff member, and then conduct their visit from the car.

Tech companies donate to Democrats and Republicans; their employees lean left

For Protocol, a news site launched by the publisher of Politico, I analyzed thousands of contributions from employees of top technology companies, as well as the donations those companies’ PACs gave to candidates. My findings: Tech companies divide their political spending very neatly between Democrats and Republicans. Their workers — whose dollars largely fund their employers’ PACs — support Democratic candidates by a wide margin.


Mapping Vaccination Rates

For years I’ve been reporting on vaccination rates in public schools. In June I examined California’s latest data set and reported on how the state’s efforts to stop parents from skipping their kids’ vaccines just led parents to find another loophole to avoid the shots. At one school in rural California, two-thirds of kindergarteners received a medical exemption — essentially a doctor’s note stating their kids shouldn’t get vaccinations — that allowed them to skip immunizations.

Screen Shot 2019-08-22 at 5.35.51 AM

I also used a state database to plot immunization rates by zip code; click here for the bigger map.

This piece followed research I did for a WIRED print story about the measles outbreak in Brooklyn, for which I mapped vaccination rates nationwide and plotted the cities most at risk of a measles outbreak.

Guns in America, in 5 charts

Following mass shootings in Pittsburgh and Thousand Oaks, California, I once again dove into the data on Americans’ very unique relationship with guns. Among the stats: the US is the only rich nation to see so many citizens die from bullet wounds; two-thirds of gun deaths in the US come from suicides, US manufacturing of firearms has skyrocketed since Barack Obama was elected.

In the chart below, I plotted data about deaths per capita by country against GDP per capita for more than 100 nations. As you can see, the US stands alone.

Silicon Valley workers really do prefer Democrats

Two years ago I analyzed data from the US Federal Election Commission to determine the political leanings of workers at tech companies. This year, I did it again for the midterms, analyzing more than 100,000 political campaign contributions made by workers at five top technology companies.

This piece also shows some of the work I’ve been doing at WIRED, getting our new data-visualization tool, Datawrapper, working with Condé Nast’s custom-built CMS.

WIRED’s Opinion Section

In August 2016 I took over the Opinion section of, editing pieces by everyone from software engineers to entrepreneurs to academics to FCC commissioners to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Here’s my write-up of the most-read pieces in 2017.

Among the pieces I’ve edited recently:
If the FCC Kills Net Neutrality, Congress Will Pay for It, December 2017.
Evidence That Ethiopia Is Spying on Journalists Shows that Spyware is Out of Control, December 2017
Self-Driving Car Tech Can Help Another Form of Transportation: Wheelchairs, November 2017
Equifax Deserves the Corporate Death Penalty, October 2017
Inmates Need Social Media. Take It From a Former Prisoner, October 2017
Supreme Court’s Cell Phone Tracking Case Could Hurt Privacy, September 2017
Why Men Don’t Believe the Data on Gender Bias in Science, August 2017