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Posts Tagged ‘computer-assisted reporting’

This is another post republished from my Training Tracks blog at the American Press Institute. I added a few links that were not in the original. While the specific examples might be outdated, the general point still applies. This was published originally July 5, 2005. I have already republished a subsequent Training Tracks post that referenced this one.

You’re reading this online, so you have some understanding of the importance of computers in our lives. Unfortunately, too many of our colleagues aren’t doing enough to recognize the importance of computers in our profession.

The past two weeks, I have spoken at two outstanding journalism conferences: The South Asian Journalists Association meeting at Columbia University in New York and the National Writers Workshop presented by the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. I don’t just speak when I go to conferences. When I’m not speaking, I listen to the other speakers. I’m listening to tips to make me a better journalist, listening for tips to cite in my training or writing for journalists, watching other speakers’ presentation techniques to steal some ideas if I can.

I heard lots of helpful tips at both gatherings. I might pass some of those tips along in a future column. For now, though, indulge me in a rant about a couple things that disturbed me.

At the SAJA conference, I sat in on a session on investigative reporting, led by a New York couple, Tom McGinty of Newsday (and formerly on the staff of Investigative Reporters and Editors) and Jo Craven McGinty of the New York Times. Tom asked the audience how many use spreadsheets regularly. A few hands went up, not even one-third of the journalists in the room, I’d guess. I think you’d get the same response, if not less, in most gatherings of journalists.

This is 2005. Public records are stored electronically. If you can’t access and analyze records, you’re not a competent reporter. I’m not saying you need to be a full-scale computer geek. I’m certainly not. In fact, I’m a bit embarrassed that I haven’t developed my computer skills further myself. But I can and have written page-one stories based on computer analysis of data. (more…)

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Since I wrote yesterday about overcoming obstacles, I thought this would be a good time to republish this post from my Training Tracks blog at the American Press Institute. I think it’s the first time where I discussed this in writing, though I know I have repeated the point in writing and speaking many time. It’s one of the principles of journalism practice that I believe most strongly.

I edited lightly to update, adding a few links, but have not checked the links I published at the time to see if they are still active, though I think I should leave them in either way. This was published originally Aug. 16, 2005. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed with the writing; I tried to tie two points together and probably should have addressed them separately. But this is an archival post, not a rewrite.

The post refers to some other posts about computer-assisted reporting. I will republish those posts soon. The post refers to a comment by Iqbal Tamimi on one of those posts. Because the original post is no longer online, I can no longer find the full comment.

I figured I was done writing about journalists and computers for a while after three posts on the subject in a month’s time. But then I heard Sree Sreenivasan. And then Iqbal Tamimi wrote me. So I’m addressing the topic one more time.

I’ve read Sree’s “Web Tips” columns for a few years now. He wrote once about the “No Train, No Gain” web site that I help Dolf Els run along with some other newsroom trainers. After Sree interviewed me for that column, we’ve kept in occasional touch by e-mail and we finally met in June, when I spoke at a conference of the South Asian Journalists Association, of which Sree is a founder. I finally heard Sree train journalists last week at API’s seminar for news editors and copy desk chiefs. (more…)

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I haven’t spent this much time talking to journalism professors and students since I graduated from Texas Christian University (let’s just say some time ago).

I visited TCU last week to present seminars on the Complete Community Connection and journalism ethics in the digital age. And since I was sticking around for some memory-lane time, the curriculum committee at TCU’s Schieffer School of Journalism asked me to meet with them and tell them what I think journalism schools should be teaching about our swiftly changing field.

I shared my views with them and will share them with you here shortly. The TCU meetings continued a heavy fall schedule of consultations with journalism faculty and students on a variety of related topics: (more…)

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