Jacob Fenton

Jacob Fenton

Director of Computer-Assisted Reporting
fenton@american.edu

Jacob Fenton, who recently joined the Sunlight Foundation, continues to work at the intersection of media and technology, as he has for the last decade. At the Workshop he analyzes data for investigations; maintains the servers and backend code that power Banktracker and the rest of the site; and builds web applications, databases and interactive maps and graphics.

Previously Fenton was database editor at The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.), and worked as a reporter and editor at two other Pennsylvania newspapers. Prior to that, he worked as a software developer in Palo Alto, Calif. He graduated from Reed College in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in physics.

Projects built by Jacob Fenton

Projects maintained by Jacob Fenton

Incubating new economic models for journalism.

Latest from iLab

Fighting in-house censorship

One of the occupational hazards for investigative reporters everywhere is internal censorship. So what can you do, as an individual journalist, if it appears that the great, exciting, investigative story you’ve been quietly exploring and finally have pitched is getting yawns or worse, pushback from your editor?

The future of TV news

Viewers nationwide mostly get local traffic, crime, weather and sports news, while local investigative reporting about the powers that be — and straight talk, facts and figures about the serious 21st century issues we all face  — generally have become endangered species.

Blogs

Most Recent Posts

Lily pads help military expand

The Investigative Reporting Workshop showcases anthropologist and author David Vine’s book today in a new project, “The Lily Pad Strategy.” 

Vine, a professor at American University, has spent years documenting the growth and influence of the U.S. military worldwide. His latest book, "Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World" (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt 2015), shows the military’s increasing footprint across Asia and Africa. The Workshop’s Kelly Martin created more than a dozen historical maps for the new book and a new set of interactive maps for the Workshop’s website.

What Pluto tells us about journalism

When NASA's New Horizons spacecraft sent back its first crisp images of Pluto last week, the culmination of a 3-billion mile, 9 1/2-year journey filled with cliffhangers and near disasters, you didn't need to be a scientist to feel the exhilaration of discovering what was, until then, a dark and blurry corner of the solar system.

Given my interests within research and media, I also thought about the lessons for journalism. 

What we're reading: award-winning journalism

One way to constantly improve as a journalist is to observe and learn from the works of others. The Society of Professional Journalists' Quill Magazine announced its top journalism picks from 2014.

Read on for summaries of some award winners.

How ISIS uses social media

The Islamic State and other terrorists groups use social-media companies to recruit, and Google, Twitter and Facebook are looking at whether and how their technology may be being exploited. Where do you draw the line between free speech and national security? A new Washington Post investigation, with contributions from Workshop summer staffer Fauzeya Rahman, explores the various viewpoints.

SRCCON Highlights

SRCCON, now in its second year, wanted to feature the hallway conversations, skillshares and collaborations that happen naturally at bigger conferences and make them the highlight of the event. We attended the Minneapolis conference to find out.

Partners

Workshop Partners

We publish online and in print, often teaming up with other news organizations. We're working now on a new program with FRONTLINE producers, to air later in the year, and on the "Years of Living Dangerously," a series on climate change that has begun airing on Showtime. A story last year on the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention centers was co-published with The New York Times. Our updates to our long-running BankTracker project, in which you can view the financial health of every bank and credit union in the country, have been published with msnbc.com, now nbcnews.com, and we co-published stories in our What Went Wrong series on the economy with The Philadelphia Inquirer and New America Media. Our graduate students are working as researchers with Washington Post reporters, and our new senior editor is a member of the Post's investigative team. Learn more on our partners page.

Projects

Investigating Power update

Investigating Power update

Profiles of notable journalists and their stories of key moments in U.S. history in the last 50 years can be found on the Investigating Power site. See Workshop Executive Editor Charles Lewis' latest video interviews as well as historic footage and timelines. You can also read more about the project and why we documented these groundbreaking examples of original, investigative journalism that helped shape or change public perceptions on key issues of our time, from civil rights to Iraq, here.