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MaryJo Webster

Data Journalist

Minneapolis, Minn.

MaryJo Webster

Data journalist. Watchdog reporter. Educator.

There's what pensions promise; then there's what they can pay

That's the shortfall between what's been promised for Minnesota's public employee pensions and what's available to pay it. This unfunded liability has more than doubled since 2006, largely because of the Great Recession and lackluster stock market returns for more than a decade. The fact that there's an unfunded obligation, or even its size, shouldn't be cause for alarm, many experts say.
St. Paul Pioneer Press Link to Story

About

MaryJo Webster

MaryJo started her journalism career in 1995 at a small, daily newspaper in New Ulm, Minn., where the so-called "dumb terminals" used for writing stories didn't even have spell checking, let alone the Internet.

After a few years at the Oshkosh (Wis.) Northwestern, she attended graduate school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. A graduate research assistant position with Investigative Reporters and Editors built up her data skills and introduced her to the fabulous world of data journalism and the NICAR community.

After graduation, she worked at the non-profit Center for Public Integrity, leading a national, data-driven investigation into campaign finance abuses. Then she spent nearly three years as the sports database editor for USA Today.

In 2005, she chose to move to her home state of Minnesota and spent nine years as data editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Her contributions to the Pioneer Press were wide-ranging, including development of a set of public searchable databases, a steady stream of data-driven stories, and the more than two years she spent reporting on the spectacular and massive crash of Twin Cities' auto mogul Denny Hecker (writing more than 150 stories in that time).

In Feb. 2014, she started as the Senior Data Reporter for Digital First Media's Thunderdome newsroom. In that role she helped all of the company's papers produce more data-driven content. Unfortunately, Digital First Media shut down Thunderdome a couple months later.

She returned to USA Today in a contract position, working from Minnesota, as part of their data team. She was the primary reporter on a series of business stories called, "Where the Jobs Are."

In March 2015, Webster joined the Minneapolis Star Tribune as its data editor. She has been a key player in numerous projects, including "Denied Justice", "Shielded by the Badge", "A Cry for Help" and "Students in flight," as well as smaller-scale enterprise stories on housing, teen deaths, school segregation, police misconduct payouts, and a variety of other topics. She also launched Data Drop, a weekly, data-driven, digital-first series.

Webster teaches data journalism part-time at the University of Minnesota and is a regular panelist and teacher at national journalism conferences and workshops. In 2018, she spoke at the International Open Data Conference in Buenos Aires.

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http://mjwebster.github.io/DataJ/

Skills

  • Excel/Google Sheets
  • mySQL/SQL Server
  • QGIS/ArcMap
  • R/RStudio
  • Data analysis
  • Public records
  • Project coordination
  • Brainstorming
  • Collaboration with others
  • Training