Here’s an good example of how a large regional daily can use databases to do targeted local reporting.

Last Thursday the Boston Globe published a story in its four suburban supplements about inconsistencies in the way that applications for concealed-weapons licenses are handled from community to community. The story, by Globe database wiz Matt Carroll, is based on statistics provided by the state’s Criminal History Systems Board.

Carroll’s story was customized in each of the four supplements, reporting the same basic facts but quoting local people. The chart accompanying the story was customized as well. Here are the versions published in the North, NorthWest, West and South editions. In City Weekly, Carroll teamed up with Ric Kahn for yet another version that was published yesterday.

This sort of approach isn’t entirely new. Heck, I was customizing regional stories on a town-by-town basis when I was working for the Daily Times Chronicle of Woburn in the 1980s. But there are a lot more meaningful stories that can be told this way now that government statistics are readily available online.

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