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Chase Davis

Chase Davis

Director of Technology


Chase Davis is the director of technology for California Watch and its parent organization, the Center for Investigative Reporting. He also writes about money and politics issues for California Watch. Chase previously worked as an investigative reporter at The Des Moines Register and the Houston Chronicle and is a founding partner of the media-technology firm Hot Type Consulting. He is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.


Using machine learning to extract quotes from text

Since we launched our Politics Verbatim project a couple of years ago, I’ve been hung up on what should be a simple problem: How can we automate the extraction of quotes from news articles?

Aug 1, 2012

The Rainmakers: Steal this app!

On Monday, we rolled out The Rainmakers, a look at the top 50 individual and top 50 group donors to California state political campaigns between 2001 and 2011.

Jun 7, 2012

Heroku for news apps

When I took over leadership of our newly created data team earlier this year, one of the first things I wanted to do was bring some sanity to how we build, deploy and host our news applications. Put another way, I wanted to undo the Gordian knot I tied when I first came to California

Apr 6, 2012

Measuring impact: Splash and Sustain

Before you read this, I encourage you to visit the thoughtful post by the Washington Post's Greg Linch on the same subject. It gets to the heart of an issue that, at least in my opinion, is going to be extremely important to the success of public service journalism – and particularly the non-profit variety

Jan 26, 2012

Beyond the Three P’s: A few more thoughts on the business of news apps

My good friend and crack news developer Matt Wynn and I made an argument a few months ago that, with the benefit of reflection, I think bears revisiting. The gist was this. Newsrooms have been investing big time and money lately in hiring developer talent. In return, they expect a return on that investment in the form

Jan 19, 2012

One small app, three tiny innovations

Being the nerds we are here, we try to look at even our smaller projects as a chance to play around with new ideas. A small project that just ran over the holiday weekend gave us a great opportunity to do just that. The project was a collaboration between California Watch and the Sacramento Bee,

Dec 26, 2011

MapReducing the news

Wouldn't you know it, the nerds here at CIR this week actually managed to turn computer science into news. Using MapReduce and our pairwise document similarity algorithm, we thought it would be fun to compare  all the bills proposed in the California Legislature during the 2009-2010 legislative session – Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger's last session as

Dec 2, 2011

Pairwise document comparison with Amazon Elastic MapReduce

We’ve had several problems pop up this year that have called for comparing a bunch of documents to a bunch of other documents, typically to find which ones are similar. It’s a simple problem on its face, but a difficult one to scale. Comparing thousands of documents to one another can call for tens of

Nov 16, 2011

On the business of news apps

Today, Matt Wynn of the Omaha World-Herald and I put forth our manifesto on the business of news applications. Our basic argument is this: News apps today are too often married to the story — they are essentially Infographics 2.0. Decoupling them from stories holds tremendous potential, both in terms of revenue and engagement. We need to

Oct 13, 2011