Not a Rocky trip

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

Last week, I mentioned that I was going to the Investigative Reporters & Editors conference in Philadelphia. I promised you a quick update on what I learned.

First, I think it was the best conference I've ever attended. Many of the country's top reporters and editors share information on strategies and techniques. It's amazing to chew the fat with people whose work I've seen over the years and to have some even know my work.

I focused on three things while I was there: Visualizations, coding and police reporting. Mainly, I went to the police reporting session just to see what they were saying about FatalEncounters.org, which came up in almost every session.

Visualization these days primarily means maps and Tableau, which is a program that allows people to import very large spreadsheets and manipulate them into easily understood snapshots. Specifically, I was trying to figure out how to update a visual that a volunteer did for the website. While I attended four Tableau sessions, the actual job I was trying to accomplish took less than five minutes. You can see its results here: http://www.fatalencounters.org/visualizations-2/.

On that same page, you'll see a map on which FatalEncounters data is laid over a map that shows poverty statistics. It's the answer to a question I've wondered about since this project started and proves beyond any doubt that poverty is an enormous indicator—probably the biggest after gender—of who gets killed by police in this country.

But it wasn't all intellectual pursuits. I stayed in a great hotel called the Independent on Locust Street. I found an awesome little dive bar called Frank's, where I spent a couple of nights happily drinking with the locals. I had just a ton of great food in this little area of Philly, although I did manage to eat bad food twice at the Reading Market.

The people were nice, the flights weren't bumpy, the weather was cool—I've never had a better time in Philadelphia. This trip gained Philly its first positive mark on my unofficial scorecard.