About

About The Scoop

This site is owned and operated by me, Derek Willis, and is not affiliated with nor a representation of my current employer or any past (or future) employers. Since being launched in 1998, The Scoop has largely focused on journalism, computer-assisted reporting and web development and in 2003 I decided to make those the exclusive topics of this site. My personal site is dwillis.net. None of my sites speak for my employer; they contain my views only.

What I Work On

Most of my work revolves around finding, acquiring and using political and legislative data for journalism. That means scraping web sites for congressional data, building APIs and helping my colleagues build interactives that explore important issues. Every now and then I get some writing published, too.

I’m also part of a Knight Foundation-funded project on election results called OpenElections and I teach reporting with data to college students. I’m lucky enough to be able to speak at conferences and other venues about journalism, data and elections, or some combination of the three. And I helped build a college football data site.

About Me

I was born in Pennsylvania, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in rhetoric and communications and attended graduate school at the University of Florida. I began my journalism career at The Palm Beach Post, working in the news library and then as a reporter and technology coordinator. From 1998-2003 I covered Congress and elections for Congressional Quarterly. In February 2003 I joined The Center for Public Integrity as a writer/data specialist working on state and federal projects, where a report I co-authored was honored with a Sigma Delta Chi award by the Society of Professional Journalists. In November 2004 I became the Research Database Editor at the Washington Post; in February 2007 I became Database Editor at washingtonpost.com, and in November 2007 I became an Interactive Developer with The New York Times, working mostly on political and election-related applications and APIs.

I was co-editor of CQ’s Federal PACs Directory, published in 1998, and of Unstacking the Deck, a guide to covering campaign finance published by Investigative Reporters and Editors. I’ve been a member of IRE since 1995 and have spoken at numerous conferences and training events around the nation on using the Internet and campaign finance data. I have served as an adjunct faculty member at The George Washington University, Northwestern University and Georgetown University, teaching data reporting classes. I live outside Washington, D.C., with my wife, daughter and a cat named Tuna. Email me at dwillis AT gmail DOT com.

Internet Achievements

  • Final winner of Slate’s “Six Degrees of Francis Bacon” contest, April 18, 1998.
  • Wanker of the Day”, Atrios, Jan. 17, 2006.
  • Cited for wasting your time with Sarah Palin’s email by “The Daily Show”, June 12, 2011.