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Sarah L. Ryley, Investigative & Data Journalist

Reporting & Editing Experience

The Boston Globe, investigative & data journalist | Boston, January 2021 - Present

Started as a fellow on the Spotlight team and was hired as the team's data specialist in April 2021. I work on investigations and enterprise stories and assist other reporters with data and public records requests.

  • My reporting on lax enforcement of state gun laws led to local zoning changes, several provisions in a state omnibus gun bill, a new police training program, and an ATF sweep of gun vendors.

  • Contributed to Spotlight series on personal enrichments and profits at Boston's elite hospitals that was a finalist for a national award.

  • Filed 45 state appeals on public records requests and won 43.

  • Data brown bag was attended by 50+ employees and my pitch for a newsroom data hub won the company's Hackathon in April 2023.


Freelance Reporter & Editor | New York, February 2020 - January 2021

  • Contributed months of deep reporting on the U.S. pandemic response to a series of New York Times Opinion Video pieces, including one featuring Nicholas Kristof that was an Emmy finalist.

  • Held a contract position as The Fuller Project’s data editor, tasked with quantifying the pandemic’s economic impact on women and leading webinars to explain Jobs Report data to journalists at other outlets. My story compiling unemployment claims data from multiple states to show women were disproportionately hit by early layoffs was picked up by wire services and other national outlets.


The Trace, investigative & data journalist | New York, April 2017 - February 2020

Produced data-driven investigations on law enforcement’s failure to solve shootings.

  • Led an investigation with a reporting fellow and BuzzFeed News’s data editor that helped free a man from prison and prompted the Baltimore Police to assign more detectives to shootings. We requested, standardized, and published detailed data on shootings from dozens of agencies that has since been downloaded by scores of researchers, journalists, and policymakers.

  • Won Deadline Club and Sidney Awards and was a finalist for the Online News Association’s Innovation in Data Journalism award.

  • Secured pro bono legal assistance from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and attorneys in four states. My expertise in policing, the architecture of government databases, and public records laws was instrumental in winning numerous public records appeals and lawsuits filed by myself and the attorneys.


New York Daily News, data projects editor | New York, October 2012 – April 2017 

​Started as the courts and transit editor, managing seven reporters, then was tapped to create and lead the publication’s first data-interactive team. In this role, I built the News’ first interactive data visualizations in Tableau, coordinated all aspects of print and web production for projects, and contributed data analysis and reporting to stories. Ultimately, I was given three data journalist/ developer hires for the team. I also ran the desk on Sundays and filled in as night editor.

  • Projects that I contributed data analysis to as an editor or reported on my own triggered dozens of reforms, including sweeping changes to the NYPD’s “broken windows” policing strategy that led to hundreds of thousands’ fewer police interactions per year.

  • My work was recognized with 19 awards and honors, including winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2017 for a solo-bylined series I did in partnership with ProPublica.

  • Ran data bootcamps attended by dozens of reporters and editors, and managed the implementation and training on a newsroom data hub.


The Daily, investigative journalist | New York, November 2010 – October 2012

​Produced quick-turn investigations. My series on immigration visas relied on dozens of federal sources and was the subject of a congressional hearing and an IG investigation. Other stories contributed to the indictment of a corrupt mayor, uncovered the return of second mortgages through government-backed financing, and tied key figures in the Jerry Sandusky coverup to a housing project.

Freelance Reporter | New York, March 2008 - November 2010

​Wrote for various publications, primarily as a regular contributor of enterprise and quick-turn investigations for The Real Deal and New York Post. My first-ever analysis of 100 years of booms and busts in Manhattan real estate won a national award, and my investigation into a one-stop scheme in Far Rockaway was looked at by the feds.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Reporter & Assistant Real Estate Editor | New York, September 2006 – March 2008

​Reported daily and enterprise stories, wrote a weekly real estate column, and edited and laid out the weekly Brooklyn Record. Primarily dug into Brooklyn's major redevelopment projects. I routinely broke stories that impacted government decisions, including helping to save an Underground Railroad home from eminent domain and hastening the construction timetable of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

​Teaching Experience

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism | December 2020 - Present

Adjunct advisor for the M.S. in Data Journalism program.

CUNY Graduate School of Journalism | New York, September 2017

Taught a series of data bootcamps for CUNY J+, the continuing education arm of the journalism school.

The New School | New York, January 2016 – May 2016

Taught an investigative reporting lab class with four students who helped lay the groundwork for a WNYC project on the judicial selection process.

Guest lectures: Columbia University, New York University, Hunter College, Wayne State University 

Technical Skills

Advanced: R (cleaning, analysis, mapping, graphics), FOIA, GIS, Excel, Tableau, Research, Editing, Writing

Intermediate: Scraping, HTML, CSS, SQL

Awards & Honors

"Boston’s Elite Hospitals: Personal Enrichment and Profits," Boston Globe Spotlight Team, 2021

  • National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation, General Circulation Journalism Award, Finalist


"How the U.S. Bungled the Plague," New York Times Opinion Video, 2020

  • Emmy, Outstanding News Analysis: Editorial and Opinion, nominee

"Free to Shoot Again," The Trace & BuzzFeed, 2019

  • Sidney Award

  • Deadline Club/SPJ, The Les Payne Award for Coverage on Communities of Color

  • Online News Association, Innovation in Data Journalism, finalist​

"Nuisance Abatement," New York Daily News & ProPublica, 2016

  • Pulitzer Prize for Public Service

  • James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism

  • Sidney Award

  • Investigative Reporters and Editors, Print/ Online Large, finalist

  • ONA, Knight Award for Public Service, finalist

  • National Association of Black Journalists, Online Project, finalist

  • MOLLY National Journalism Prize, honorable mention

  • Deadline Club/SPJ, Minority Focus Omnibus Award, finalist

  • Deadline Club/SPJ, Local Reporting, finalist

  • Newswomen’s Club of New York, online depth reporting

"Fight for their Future," New York Daily News, 2015

  •  New York State Associated Press Association (NYSAPA), first prize, depth reporting,


"Broken Windows" reporting, New York Daily News, 2013 - 2015

  • Deadline Club/SPJ, Minority Focus Omnibus Award

  • Newswomen’s Club of New York, Nellie Bly Front Page Award ("Beyond Broken")

  • NYSAPA, first prize, depth reporting

  • NYSAPA, first prize, online presentation ("Stop-and-Frisk" data interactives)

"They died at the hands of cops," New York Daily News, 2014 

  • NYSAPA, first prize, continuing coverage (with Eric Garner coverage) 

  • NYSAPA, second prize, depth reporting


 "The Homicide Project," New York Daily News, 2014

  • Newswomen’s Club of New York, best multimedia package


"Stain on the Badge," New York Daily News, 2013 (as project editor only)

  • NYSAPA, first prize, depth reporting

"100 Years of Booms and Busts," The Real Deal, 2010

  • National Association of Real Estate Editors, first prize, commercial real estate

Other Honors

  • Wayne State University Arts Achievement Awards, Distinguished Alumna

  • John Jay/ Harry Frank Guggenheim criminal justice reporting fellow

Speaking & Workshops


  • 2019, National Institute of Computer Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference, "R1: Intro to R and R Studio", "R2:  Data Analysis and Plotting in R" and "Turning Data Into Human Stories"

  • 2018, Columbia University, Freedom of Information Requests Brown Bag

  • 2018, Columbia University, Public Data Day, "An Introduction to Public Data"

  • 2018, Wayne State University, Master Class

  • 2018, NICAR, "I'm Entitled to a Spreadsheet, Darnit!" and "Intro to OpenRefine"

  • 2017, Columbia University, "2016 Pulitzer Seminar: Exposing injustices around the world"

  • 2017, Hunter College, "Not the Enemy of the People: The Future of Local Investigative Reporting"

  • 2017, United Nations, "Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media's role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies"

  • 2017, NICAR, "Building Your Own Database", "Data Analysis with Tableau" and "The Art and Science of the data story comment request"

  • 2017, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) watchdog workshop, "Intro to Data Journalism"

  • 2016, Harvard, Justice & Poverty Project Media Workshop

  • 2016, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Bridging the Divide panel "Nuisance Abatement And Broken Windows"

  • 2016, IRE conference, “Rolling Your Own Data”

  • 2016, NICAR, “Lightning Fast Data Analysis with Tableau"

  • 2015, NICAR, “Lightning Fast Data Analysis with Tableau I & II”

  • 2014, Newsroom, data training workshops in Excel, Access and OpenRefine


​Wayne State University | Detroit, Journalism, B.A.

Named a distinguished alumna in 2018. Interned at the Detroit News, Oakland Press and Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Editor-in-chief, managing editor and opinions editor for student daily. Awarded a journalism scholarship. 

Other Activities

  • Ceramics & sculpting, student (BKLYN CLAY, ClaySpace TC, The Art Students League of New York)

  • CHiPS Soup Kitchen, Brooklyn, N.Y., waitress & kitchen worker

  • PADI-certified scuba diver (Zanzibar, Colombia, Belize, Cuba, The Bahamas)

  • Hiking (Kashmir, Colombia, Belize, China, Myanmar, Chile, Japan, USA)

  • Unified for Global Healing, volunteered with a medical relief and art therapy group in Haiti

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