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.

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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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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Health
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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American Dreams: Then And Now
5:42 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

A Baseball School For Big League Dreamers

Ketchum Marsh, a senior from Massachusetts, walks back to the dugout during an intrasquad game at IMG Baseball Academy, where he trains and goes to school.
Chip Litherland for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 9:11 pm

If you have ever dreamed of playing big-league baseball, chances are the dream started to fade sometime in high school.

It gradually becomes clear: You won't be starting in Game 7 of the World Series, and tipping your cap after hitting a walk-off homer. So at some point you go from player to fan — watching others chase greatness on the diamond.

But not every baseball dreamer is willing to give up so early. And in Bradenton, Fla., there's a place that lies somewhere between the Little League field and Yankee Stadium.

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Planet Money
2:24 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Where Dollars Are Born

Robert Benincasa NPR

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 9:05 am

DALTON, Mass. – If you were driving through this small town along the Housatonic River in the Berkshires, here's something you might not think about: All the bills in your wallet are visiting their birthplace.

The paper for U.S. currency, the substrate of everyday commerce, has been made here since 1879 by the Crane family.

Crane & Co. vice president Doug Crane represents the eighth generation descended from Stephen Crane, who was making paper before the American Revolution.

He gave NPR reporters a behind-the-scenes tour and talked about his company.

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Planet Money
3:53 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Should We Kill The Dollar Bill?

Robert Benincasa NPR

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 4:53 pm

Our story begins last month inside a busy Washington, D.C. subway station plastered with posters of giant dollar bills. One of them says: "Tell Congress to stop wasting time trying to eliminate the dollar bill." Another asks: "Do you heart the dollar?"

Political fights in the nation's capital normally involve billions or even trillions, not single dollars. What's going on here?

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Planet Money
1:09 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

White House Kills Dollar Coin Program

Dollar coins gathering dust in the Fed's Baltimore brach.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 5:24 pm

The federal government will stop minting unwanted $1 coins, the White House said Tuesday. The move will save an estimated $50 million a year.

Earlier this year, we reported on the mountain of $1 coins sitting unused in government vaults. The pile-up — an estimated 1.4 billion coins — was caused by a 2005 law that ordered the minting of coins honoring each U.S. president.

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