Robert Benincasa

Robert Benincasa is a computer-assisted reporting producer in NPR's Investigations Unit.

Since joining NPR in 2008, Benincasa has been reporting on NPR Investigations stories, analyzing data for investigations, and developing data visualizations and interactive applications for NPR.org. He has worked on numerous groundbreaking stories, including an exclusive on the independence level of nursing home residents, the safety of automated aircraft, and a government mandate to produce $1 coins that Americans don't want.

Prior to NPR, Benincasa served as the database editor for the Gannett News Service Washington Bureau for a decade. In 1995, he joined the Burlington VT Free Press as a staff writer.

Benincasa's work at NPR has been recognized by many of journalism's top honors. In 2011, he was part of the team that received a Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, George Foster Peabody Award, and a National Journalism Award – Jack R. Howard Award for Excellence in Radio Reporting for work on NPR's story "Seeking Justice for Campus Rapes."

Also in 2011 he received numerous accolades for his contributions to several investigative stories including an Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, an Investigative Reporters & Editors Radio Award, the While House News Photographers Association's Eyes of History Award for multimedia innovation, and George Polk Award.

Since 2008, Benincasa, has served on the faculty of Georgetown University's Master of Professional Studies program in journalism.

Benincasa earned a master's of arts degree in journalism from University of Maryland and a bachelor's of arts in psychology from Villanova University.

The Two-Way
4:49 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

University Would Study Health Issues In Polluted New York Town

A view of the Tonawanda Coke plant in Tonawanda, N.Y., which was found to have emitted carcinogens at levels many times higher than the state's limit.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 6:13 pm

Residents of an upstate New York town who've long associated their illnesses with the air they breathe may finally get some answers about the health effects of living next to a toxic polluter.

The town of Tonawanda lies in the shadow of Tonawanda Coke Corp., whose ovens heat coal into material used for the iron and steel industries, and release toxic chemicals into the air.

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The Two-Way
12:38 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Wells Fargo, Fifth Third, U.S. Bank To End Payday Loan Program

Originally published on Sat January 18, 2014 8:09 am

Wells Fargo & Co., Fifth Third Bank and U.S. Bank said Friday that they will stop offering "deposit advances," a kind of payday loan that had come under fire by federal regulators last year.

With about $1.5 trillion in assets, Wells Fargo was the largest bank offering the costly, low-dollar loans. Regions Bank announced an end to deposit advances earlier this week.

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The Two-Way
4:18 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Regions Bank To Discontinue Payday Loan Program

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 11:15 am

One of several banks that offer payday loans is getting out of the business.

Regions Bank announced Wednesday that it will discontinue its "deposit advance" product known as Ready Advance.

Deposit advances are small, costly loans that bank customers take out between paychecks, and pay back automatically when a scheduled direct deposit comes through.

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Business
5:03 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Banks Come Under Fire For Filling In The Payday Loan Gap

Federal regulators are setting new rules for banks that offer deposit advances.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:05 pm

A payday loan is a costly form of credit operating on the fringes of the economy. That's why the target of a new crackdown by federal regulators may surprise you: Instead of a forlorn-looking storefront with a garish neon sign, it's your familiar neighborhood bank.

A small but growing number of banks, including some major players, have been offering the equivalent of payday loans, calling them "deposit advances."

That is, at least, until bank regulators stepped in Nov. 21 and put new restrictions on the loans.

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Business
4:33 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Federal Regulators Crack Down On Payday Advances

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 5:45 am

Consumer advocates are hailing a decision by federal regulators to crack down on so called deposit advances — a type of payday loan offered by some banks. Going forward, banks will not be allowed to let their customers take deposit advances more than once a month, or take them in consecutive months.

U.S.
3:32 am
Wed August 28, 2013

New Accessible Playground Rules May Not Go Far Enough

The local playground's design doesn't work for Emmanuel, shown here with his family. The loose surface hampers his wheelchair, and there are no ramps to help him get onto the play structures.
Julie Caine for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 6:57 pm

Last year, the federal government made accessibility standards at playgrounds mandatory under the Americans with Disabilities Act so that children with disabilities can more easily play alongside typical kids.

But whether children with disabilities are able to enjoy their new civil rights to play may depend on where they live, and the design decisions their cities and towns made when they built local playgrounds.

For 3-year-old Emmanuel Soto, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, the local playground's design doesn't work.

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U.S.
12:17 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

For Kids With Special Needs, More Places To Play

Brooklyn Fisher rolls down the ramp on the playground named for her in Pocatello, Idaho. The playground was built using accessible features so children of all abilities could play alongside each other.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 6:31 pm

Remember running around the playground when you were a kid? Maybe hanging from the monkey bars or seeing who could swing the highest?

It wasn't just a mindless energy burn. Many have called play the work of childhood. Play teaches children how to make friends, make rules and navigate relationships.

But for kids whose disabilities keep them from using playgrounds, those opportunities can be lost.

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