2022 The University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism, Large Newsroom finalist

Zoning Divide


About the Project

This project reveals for the first time how land-use rules favoring the construction of single-family houses have perpetuated racial segregation across the Twin Cities, home to some of the nation’s widest racial disparities in income, wealth and homeownership.

Underpinning the story is a huge database – never before compiled – identifying the zoning designation for every residential parcel in more than 100 metro area communities.

From the outset, data editor MaryJo Webster and news developer Michael Corey knew that maps would be the key to telling this story. The stark contrasts between one map showing the vast areas of the metro that only allowed single-family houses and another showing the miniscule amount of land allowing multi-family housing conveyed the key point of the story far better than any sentence they could write.

MaryJo and Mike believed that a digital-first execution could use our best online tools to make this complex topic more accessible. The story’s presentation represents months of planning across several teams, fusing work from some of our newsroom’s sharpest minds in data, mapping, photo, video, audio and design with strong reporting and editing.