Reporters, numbers & computers...
Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR) is an awkward phrase, even without the additional R some add to emphasize "Research." Journalists don't talk about "telephone-assisted interviewing" or "word-processor assisted writing." But if having a name with a catchy acronym helps remind reporters that computers aren't just fancy typewriters, drive on, CAR!
Professor Philip Meyer at the University of North Carolina came up with a classier phrase, Precision Journalism, when he wrote the first edition of his book by that title a quarter of a century ago. (The second edition has "The New..." added to the title, and is available in reprint or online.)
The links below point at tools used or suggested by Meyer and by Stephen Quinn, a CAR wizard Emerson College borrowed from Australia for a few enlightening weeks in 2001... along with a few data-sources and tutorials I've hunted down for use in class.
Phil's beat-the-press math test online: http://www.unc.edu/~pmeyer/carstat/mathtestquestions.html
Statistics every journalist should know, by Robert Niles: http://www.robertniles.com/stats/
Excel, the low-budget data-cruncher
- Emerson Telepath (10-page overview): http://telepath.emerson.edu/resources/software/excel.html
- Tips from Jeff South at VCU: http://www.people.vcu.edu/~jcsouth/library/analysis/excel.html
- Tips from Bruce Garrison at U of Miami: http://www.miami.edu/com/classes/cnj513/excel-1.htm
- Computer help docs at U of Texas: http://www.utexas.edu/cc/training/handouts/
- UNC Chapel Hill software documentation: http://help.unc.edu
Data sources & samples
- IRE Downloadable Data on the net http://www.ire.org/training/nettour/#downloadable
- Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) provides CAR story archives, workshops, advice and datasets.
- Federal statistics of all kinds http://www.fedstats.gov/
- Combined source for data from more than 70 federal agencies.
- Massachusetts statistics http://www.fedstats.gov/qf/states/25000.html
- Census data, including breakdown by congressional and judicial districts, place names, etc.
- More Massachusetts data http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/more.data/25000.html
- Includes agriculture, population and demographics, labor, business, crime, education, energy and environment, personal income and more.
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts, governor's 2003 budget recommendation:
- http://www.state.ma.us/bb/fy2003h1/default.htm -- includes downloadable spreadsheet version.
- City of Boston budget: http://www.cityofboston.gov/budget/
- Includes a breakdown by major offices; downloadable PDF files for Adobe Acrobat. (Overview document alone is 114 pages.)
Questions? Dead links to report? Write to Bob_Stepno@emerson.edu