The back story of BankTracker

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 

“Wendell

Photo by Jeff Watts, AU

Wendell Cochran  

This month we’re celebrating the eighth anniversary of BankTracker, our long-running series of stories and updates on the financial health of the nation’s banks and credit unions. 

In 2009, Wendell Cochran, a founding editor of the Workshop, wanted to track the impact of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the $250 billion package that was signed into law in October 2008 by President Bush to stabilize the financial system.

Using data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), he created BankTracker, which allows readers to search by the name of their bank or by credit union to see assets, loans, deposits, reserves, profits and real-estate holdings, among other things, for every bank and credit union in the country.  

Our first data journalism project continues to have an avid readership. But eight years ago, the banking association warned us not to publish it. Read the back-story on how the analysis came together and how we developed our first partnership with a mainstream media outlet, msnbc.com.

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We publish online and in print, teaming up with other news organizations. We recently aired "Blackout in Puerto Rico," a co-production of FRONTLINE, NPR and the Workshop. We also recently produced an IRW Interactive, "Nightmare Bacteria: Life Without Antibiotics," a compilation of several programs on antibiotic-resistance done with the FRONTLINE team based at the Workshop and the School of Communication.

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Over the years, we have teamed with msnbc and later NBC News online to produce our BankTracker series and stories on the economy. We also co-produced the first season of "Years of Living Dangerously," a documentary series and Emmy Award-winning program that aired on Showtime. Learn more on our partners page.

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