Joe Spurr is a multimedia journalist and web developer. He is a reporter and the senior producer of Bad Chemistry, WBUR’s ongoing effort to coherently track the unprecedented drug lab crisis in Massachusetts. He also recently directed OpenCourt, a pilot project seeded by the Knight Foundation to modernize online access to local justice systems.
Among other things, OpenCourt field-tested new approaches such as streaming live video to the web from a district courthouse south of Boston. Setting a strong precedent for new media rights, its legal team won a landmark case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled unanimously that restricting abilities to stream, record video, or archive public court proceedings online would violate First Amendment press protections.
Joe was previously staff web developer for kpbs.org, site of San Diego’s NPR station. He overhauled its front and backend in three months in order to meet a strict accessibility deadline in 2009. As a yardstick, between May 2008 and May 2013, average monthly uniques/pageviews increased fivefold to 500k/a million.
Joe also built interactive maps at KPBS, using XML layers to help track the drug-related murder surge in Tijuana, produced remotely in a roving, three-person skeleton crew from the DNC and RNC in 2008, and pioneered the station’s adoption of Twitter and custom Google Maps in 2007. The station’s custom Google Map during the widespread California wildfires that year received over 3.5 million views, leading to coverage by Wired and The New York Times, a Mark Twain award for “Best Use of Web for Breaking News” and disaster response case studies by Google and Stanford University.
Joe is a Boston native, a graduate of Northeastern University, and a former freelance reporter at The Boston Globe.