Grizzly Watch: Applying a data-driven reporting model to bear-human interactions

1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]

Grizzly Watch uses the structured data reporting platform of Homicide Watch to create a free, open database of all grizzly bear relocations, attacks and significant incidents in the greater Yellowstone area.

2. How will your project make data more useful? [50 words]

Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team

Multiple state and federal agencies produce gigabytes of data on more than 600 anonymous and famous grizzlies, including GPS relocation coordinates, individual sightings and fatal attack incident reports. But Yellowstone area residents struggle to find and use the disparate information. A comprehensive relational database tied to a structured reporting blog will engage the multiple creators of grizzly data with the audiences seeking that information, allowing users to explore relationships between grizzlies and the human world.

3. How is your project different from what already exists? [30 words]

Various government agencies each present limited grizzly bear data, but Grizzly Watch makes that data available, useful and engaging by empowering readers to interact with it. Users will better understand macro and micro details of grizzly-human interactions as habitats and populations change.


4. Why will it work? [100 words]

Interest in grizzly activities and management is growing as bears expand their range. Grizzly Watch provides a clear view of how environmental policies and resource management decisions affect bears and the people who live near them.

Grizzly Watch builds on the success of Homicide Watch, an award-winning data-driven structured beat reporting project in Washington DC.

The project is large enough to reach critical mass and capture the public’s imagination while being small enough to execute quickly and easily maintain for the long term.

5. Who is working on it? [100 words]

Ruffin Prevost is founding editor of Yellowstone Gate and the Wyoming reporter for Reuters America Wire. He has worked previously for WyoFile and the Billings Gazette.

Glass Eye Media is providing technical development, project mentoring and product support.

Laura Amico, CEO of Glass Eye Media, is founder and editor of Homicide Watch D.C. and a Nieman-Berkman Fellow in Journalism Innovation.

Chris Amico is chief technologist of Glass Eye Media, built the Homicide Watch platform and has developed web applications for National Public Radio, PBS NewsHour and other news organizations.

6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]

Homicide Watch launched in September 2010 and tracks every homicide in Washington, D.C. Its custom-built software architecture is licensed as a standard to news organizations and other groups to easily allow anyone to track and share information and stories about complex incidents across time and space using multiple data points.


Yellowstone Gate launched in September 2011 as a hybrid niche/community news site about Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and their gateway communities.

We have bought the domain name.

7. How would you use News Challenge funds? [50 words]

To pay for code changes to the Homicide Watch back-end to adapt it for custom use in tracking grizzly incidents; to cover part of the costs of collecting, entering, interpreting and presenting grizzly data; and to help cover web hosting, maintenance and publicity expenses for two years after launch.

8. How would you sustain the project after the funding expires? [50 words]

Through a combination of grants from nonprofits focused on grizzly bear, environmental and Yellowstone area issues and sponsorships from local businesses and others. Yellowstone Gate will make ongoing, long-term in-kind contributions of labor and expertise.

Requested amount: $35,000

Expected number of months to complete project: 12

Total Project Cost: $50,000

Name: Ruffin Prevost

Twitter: YellowstoneGate

Email address [optional]:

Organization: Yellowstone Gate

City: Cody, Wyoming

Country: United States of America

How did you learn about the contest? Through the Knight Foundation email newsletter and from multiple sources on Twitter. We were also familiar with many previous Knight challenges and initiatives.

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Ruffin Prevost is founding editor of Yellowstone Gate, an independent news site covering life in and around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and their gateway communities. He also reports on Wyoming for Reuters, the international news service. He previously worked as managing editor for WyoFile and as the Wyoming reporter for The Billings Gazette. This site features selected stories and photos from his work produced between  2005-10.

Ruffin Prevost
104 Bear Creek Rd.
Cody WY 82414

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