Todd Wallack

Boston reporter shares love of data, records

Boston Globe reporter Todd Wallack

Boston Globe reporter Todd Wallack

“I’m a reporter for the Boston Globe. I love data and public records.”

As soon as I read Todd Wallack’s Twitter bio, I knew I wanted to follow him and check out his work. I reached out to him to see what public records and data stories he’s done lately, and he sent me two great examples.

In June, he looked at campaign finance data and found that Massachusetts candidates spend thousands of dollars a year on coffee and doughnuts. Using some really creative graphics, Todd was able to show that candidates in state and major local races have spent more than $157,000 at Dunkin’ Donuts since 2002. The biggest coffee and doughnut spender was Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, whose campaign spent more than $15,000.

The other story Todd sent me involved the state Department of Children and Families, which has been slow to respond to public records requests.

“The heightened interest in DCF comes after several children under the agency’s watch have been found dead in recent months, sparking a wave of media attention and requests from reporters and lawmakers for information,” Todd wrote.

“The deaths triggered intense, often critical media coverage as reporters started asking for information showing how frequently caseworkers visited children, how many other children have died or gone missing, and how often the state placed children with parents with criminal records.”

Even when the agency did answer requests, Todd found, it sometimes took months or demanded fees so high that reporters balked at paying them, delaying the requests further.

Many thanks to Todd for sharing these stories with me. If you’d like to learn more about his work, follow him on Twitter @TWallack.