Ben Welsh

Hello. My name is Ben Welsh. I’m an Iowan living in New York City.

I am a journalist, albeit an unconventional one. I specialize in what some people call data journalism, some others call computational journalism and what people used to call computer-assisted reporting.

Jargon aside, that means I am a reporter, an editor and a computer programmer. My job is to use those skills to find and tell stories.

I now work as the news applications editor at Reuters, the world’s largest independent news agency. In that role, I lead the development of dynamic dashboards, interactive databases and automated insights that benefit clients, inform readers, empower reporters and serve the public interest. I am also a fellow at DePaul University’s Center for Journalism Integrity & Excellence.

Projects I've contributed to have been awarded The Pulitzer Prize, the Library of Congress’ Innovation Award, Harvard’s Bingham Prize, a Knight News Challenge grant and numerous other commendations for investigative reporting, digital design and online journalism.

Prior to Reuters, I spent 15 years at the Los Angeles Times. There I cofounded The Times’ first digitally-focused projects team and went on to lead the modernization of the newspaper’s graphics department. In those roles, I helped to create the most popular pages in the history of, including the site’s first live election results, a mapping platform that set a new standard for defining L.A. neighborhoods, custom designs for dozens of flagship projects, an award-winning wildfire tracker and the most complete resource on the spread of COVID-19 in California.

Earlier in my career, I worked on investigative projects at The Center for Public Integrity and helped produce long-form documentaries for cable channels like CNN. I also spent a year as a fellow at Stanford University, where I led an expansion of the Big Local News initiative.

My data-driven reporting has led to reforms in the Los Angeles Fire Department’s 911 system, overhauls to how the city recruits and hires firefighters, a revamp of a broken building inspection program, the replacement of the Los Angeles Police Department's public crime map, as well as increased fines against exploitative landlords. As a result, two city fire chiefs and the Los Angeles fire marshal have left office.

I’m a code contributor to many open-source software projects, including Project Jupyter, Django, IPython, pandas and Altair. I’ve led the development of dozens of tools that ease access to data published by U.S. government agencies, including the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and an array of wildfire tracking systems.

My open-source experimentation with digital archiving tools has generated a growing collection of news homepages at the Internet Archive, a personalized clipping service that empowered journalists to preserve their work, an E.E. Cummings poetry collection, a dictionary of political fundraising jargon, a podcast celebrating the legacy of Studs Terkel, social media bots that promote collections at the Los Angeles Public Library and the Library of Congress, as well as a series of open-source software packages that allow programmers to archive born-digital material more easily.

As a cofounder of the California Civic Data Coalition, I helped open up the jumbled, difficult database tracking campaign finance and lobbying activity in state politics. That work resulted in improved coverage of the topic, including some of the most comprehensive and probing analysis ever done of money at the statehouse. The coalition’s effort yielded a groundbreaking tool for database imports and data journalism curriculum that has been taught in classrooms and conferences around the world.

I frequently teach practical computer programming skills to journalism students and professionals. That includes creating online classes at the University of Texas, leading training sessions at journalism conferences, hosting free online classes, and serving as a guest instructor at Stanford, the University of California Los Angeles, the University of California Santa Cruz, the University of California San Diego, California State University Northridge, the University of Southern California, The New School, Arizona State University, American University and DePaul University.

My work has been favorably mentioned by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Columbia Journalism School, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Poynter Institute, the Reuters Institute, Nieman Reports, Nieman Journalism Lab, Press Gazette, Voice of America, ProPublica, the Federal Trade Commission, The Brookings Institution, The Huffington Post, Wired, Source, The Verge, Boing Boing, O'Reilly Radar, Frankfurter Rundschau, Flowing Data, TechCrunch, Mashable, The E.E. Cummings Society, alternative weeklies, real estate blogs, conservative talk radio, financial tipsheets, media dirtsheets and the foreign press.

I am licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration as a commercial drone pilot. I am also certified by the Federal Communications Commission as an Amateur Extra class radio operator under the callsign KFØIA.

My education includes a master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism — where I worked at the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting. I received my undergraduate training at DePaul University in Chicago.

I grew up near Swisher, Iowa and attended Cedar Rapids’ Prairie High School.

Elsewhere on the site, you can find samples of my work, my technical documentation and my public-speaking engagements. An index of my open-source software efforts is available on GitHub.

Technical skills
  • Data analysis with pandas, Jupyter notebooks and other statistical tools
  • Database-driven web development with Django
  • Database administration with PostgreSQL, MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server
  • News writing and editing
  • Commercial drone flight and photography
  • Programming with Python, Node.js, Perl and Ruby
  • Digital cartography with QGIS, Django, PostGIS and JavaScript UI libraries
  • Data visualization with d3.js and other browser-based libraries
  • UI development with JavaScript, CSS, Svelte, React and HTML5 web standards
  • Deployment with Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, GitHub Actions, Rackspace and Heroku
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