SARAH L. RYLEY  Investigative & Data Journalist


Freelance | New York, February 2020 - Present

Freelance journalist specializing in investigations, data and FOIA. I'm currently working with the New York Times Opinion Video team. I also produced data-driven stories on COVID-19's economic impact on women for The Fuller Project, a nonprofit news outlet that focuses on women.

The Trace, investigative reporter | New York, April 2017 - January 2020

Produced data-driven investigative stories. My series on law enforcement’s failure to solve shootings, with BuzzFeed News and Chicago’s WTTW, helped free a man from prison, triggered a push to put more resources toward solving shootings, and made public data, documentation and methodology that has been put to use by numerous journalists and influential researchers. Obtained pro bono legal representation in four states, including from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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

Started as courts editor, managing seven reporters. My editor-in-chief created a position for me as the data projects editor. I built a team of four data journalists/developers and led numerous investigations that triggered reform. My solo-byline series on the NYPD's use of the nuisance abatement law, done in partnership with ProPublica, led to 13 new laws and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. My stories on summonses and farebeating arrests triggered the passage of the Criminal Justice Reform Act and contributed to the NYPD’s shift to “precision policing." Also filled-in as the Sunday desk editor and night editor, and ran data training courses attended by dozens of reporters.

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

Produced investigative stories for News Corp’s national tablet publication, traveling around the country and to Haiti. I also helped produce animations, videos, and interactive graphics. My series on flaws in Homeland Security’s visa process relied on dozens of internal sources and was the subject of a congressional hearing and an inspector general investigation. My investigation on a corrupt small-town mayor contributed to his indictment. I also uncovered the return of second mortgages through government-backed financing and a real estate project that tied together key figures in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Freelance | New York, March 2008 - November 2010   

Wrote stories for The Real Deal, New York Post, Brownstoner, The Huffington Post and Anderson Cooper 360’s blog. My award-winning trend pieces for The Real Deal were considered on the precipice of detecting the real estate downturn in New York. I produced the first-ever analysis of 100 years of booms and busts in Manhattan real estate and pieced together a predatory “one stop” scheme looked at by the feds.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, reporter | New York, September 2006 – March 2008

Wrote daily news stories and a real estate column, and edited and laid out the weekly Brooklyn Record. I primarily dug into the borough's billions of dollars of development projects, routinely breaking stories that impacted government decision-making. My investigations helped save an Underground Railroad home from eminent domain, led to the firing of a high-level state development official, and hastened the construction timetable of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Detroit News, reporting intern, business desk | Detroit, May 2006 – August 2006

Averaged two articles per week for the award-winning business desk, including five front-page enterprise stories and a series on how the immigration debate could impact Michigan’s economy. Offered a full-time position.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, reporting intern | New York, May 2005 – September 2005

Covered major development projects, politics and local culture. Averaged an article per day, frequently scooping larger outlets. Took all photographs for my articles. Offered a full-time position.

The Oakland Press, reporting intern | Troy, Mich., February 2005 – May 2005

Part-time internship on the features desk. Averaged four articles per week, including enterprise articles, profiles, and general assignment news. Wrote four front-page articles, including enterprise stories on wetlands destruction and medical bankruptcy.


CUNY Graduate School of Journalism | New York, September 2017

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

The New School, part-time lecturer | New York, January 2016 – May 2016

Taught an investigative reporting lab class for a WNYC project on the judicial selection process. 

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



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

Interned at the Detroit News, Oakland Press and Brooklyn Daily Eagle. I was offered full-time jobs at The News and the Eagle. I also served as editor-in-chief, managing editor and opinions editor for the student-run daily newspaper and was awarded a journalism scholarship. Named a distinguished alumna in 2018.

Michigan State University | Lansing, Mich., Environmental Policy

Agnes Scott College | Atlanta, English & Comparative Religion


John Jay/ Harry Frank Guggenheim criminal justice reporting fellow, 2017


- 2019, Online News Association, Innovation in Data Journalism, finalist, "Free to Shoot Again"

- 2019, February Sidney Award, "Free to Shoot Again"

- 2018, Wayne State University Arts Achievement Awards, Distinguished Alumna

- 2017, Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, "Nuisance Abatement"

- 2017, James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, "Nuisance Abatement" 

- 2017, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Print/ Online - Large, finalist, "Nuisance Abatement"

- 2017, National Association of Black Journalists, Online Project, finalist, "Nuisance Abatement"

- 2017, MOLLY National Journalism Prize, honorable mention, "Nuisance Abatement"

- 2017, Deadline Club/ SPJ, Minority Focus Omnibus Award, finalist, "Nuisance Abatement"

- 2017, Deadline Club/ SPJ, Local Reporting, finalist, "Nuisance Abatement"

- 2016, ONA, Knight Award for Public Service, finalist, "Nuisance Abatement"

- 2016, May Sidney Award, "The NYPD is running stings against immigrant-owned shops, then pushing for warrantless searches"

- 2016, Newswomen’s Club of New York, online depth reporting, "Nuisance Abatement"

- 2016, New York State Associated Press Association (NYSAPA), first prize, depth reporting, "Fight for their Future"

- 2015, Deadline Club/ SPJ, Minority Focus Omnibus Award, "Broken Windows"

- 2015, NYSAPA, first prize, depth reporting, "Broken Windows"

- 2015, NYSAPA, first prize, continuing coverage, "Eric Garner"

- 2015, NYSAPA, second prize, depth reporting, "They died at the hands of cops"

- 2014, Newswomen’s Club of New York, Nellie Bly Front Page Award, "Beyond Broken"

- 2014, Newswomen’s Club of New York, best multimedia package, "The Homicide Project"

- 2014, NYSAPA, first prize, online presentation, "Stop-and-Frisk"

- 2014, NYSAPA, first prize, depth reporting (editor), "Stain on the Badge"

- 2011, National Association of Real Estate Editors, first prize, commercial real estate, "100 Years of Booms and Busts"



- 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


Advanced: R (cleaning, analysis, mapping, charts), Excel, Tableau, OpenRefine

Beginner: HTML, CSS, SQL


- CHiPS Soup Kitchen, waitress & kitchen worker (monthly food coop shift)

- The Art Students League of New York, sculpting

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

- Trekking (Appalachian Trail, USA; Mount Nebu, Kashmir; Shan Hills, Myanmar; Torres del Paine, Chile; Kumano Kodo, Japan)