Data journalist. Watchdog reporter. Educator.
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 couple more gigs at small dailies, she attended graduate school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. A graduate research assistant position with Investigative Reporters and Editors immersed her computer-assisted reporting 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 and later as the sports database editor for USA TODAY.
In 2005, she chose to move to her home state of Minnesota when the computer-assisted reporting editor position opened up at the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Her contributions to the Pioneer Press were wide-ranging, including development of a set of public searchable databases known as The Data Mine, 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 is helped all of the company's papers do more data-driven content. Unfortunately, Digital First Media shut down Thunderdome a couple months later.
She returned to USA Today, 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 late March 2015, Webster joined the Minneapolis Star Tribune as its data editor. She has been a key player in numerous projects, including "A Cry for Help" and "Students in flight," as well as smaller-scale enterprise stories on housing, teen deaths, school segregation and a variety of other topics. She also launched Data Drop, a weekly, data-driven, digital-first series.
Webster also teaches data journalism at the University of Minnesota, a role she's had since 2010.
She is a regular speaker at the National Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference and other data journalism and watchdog training events.