John Muyskens, a 2015 graduate of Calvin College, was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize in the National Reporting Category. Muyskens, 23, is a graphic editor at The Washington Post and helped create a national database to illustrate how often and why the police shoot to kill and who the victims are most likely to be.
“Our research began by collecting the most commonly available details such as the victim’s name, age, gender, and race,” Muyskens said. However, “as the project progressed, we kept coming up with new details that we wanted to track about each case.” Muyskens said he built a web application for researchers to enter data about shootings and for reporters to view the data. Because of his work, reporters were able to study the statistics and find stories from them.
Muyskens became interested in programming journalism and design around the 2012 presidential election. “I began paying attention to how major news organizations were using graphics to cover the race.” While on staff of Chimes, the Calvin College student newspaper, Muyskens started making data visuals for the stories. “Data and statistics in reporting allows us to place anecdotes within a bigger picture. This project, like many other works of investigative journalism, is about accountability and exposing areas where accountability is lacking.”
Joel Adams, chair of the computer science department at Calvin, said, “John’s work is a great illustration of how computer scientists create original technologies that make a real difference in our world.”