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New York Times research internship

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  • 1. NEWS LIBRARIANS:FIGHTING TO SURVIVEBY HELEN KWONGPRACTICUM, AUG. 4, 2011
  • 2. WHAT IS NEWS LIBRARIANSHIP?• News librarians manage the paper’s archives, aka the morgue, which generally houses news clippings, microfilm, newspapers, magazines, journals, and some books• They are go-to people for database assistance and research for investigative and other news stories• They also may fact-check; find people, expert sources, statistics; and build background information, reference guides• They offer research and database training, 1-on-1 or classes
  • 3. NEWS LIBRARIANSHIP AT NYT• They are called news researchers• 4 full-time: 3 in New York, 1 in D.C. bureau• 4 part-time: 2 in New York, 1 research consultant, 1 in D.C. • These numbers do not include Times Magazine and op-ed departments, who have their own researchers• New York researchers each have additional duties: • 1 is supervisor, manages day-to-day duties • 1 manages library • 1 manages database log-ins
  • 4. NEWS LIBRARIANSHIP AT NYT• Researchers sit near journalists, not in the morgue far from newsroom like most places• Majority of questions are for finding people• Use online databases, rarely phone or books• Answer questions as authoritatively and quickly as possible• Ready reference library is near researchers; rest of the library is in the basement; the morgue is next door in the basement of the CUNY J-School
  • 5. NYT LIBRARY• 40,000 volumes with emphasis on • Biography, history, politics, current events and journalism• 250 periodical titles in print, microfilm andonline formats• D.C. bureau houses 2,500 volumes withemphasis on politics• Employees have access to books and databases24/7
  • 6. STAYING RELEVANT• Twitter @NYTResearch• Reporters and editors recognize them with a credit line on bottom of stories• Each question they answer is kept in a database. This also helps them recall questions.• Have allies in newsroom• Just doing outstanding research• Blog about new books, databases, interesting facts from authoritative sites• Utilize historic books with pictures in library to tell New York City’s history. For example, Zouaves• Research dept. has own Intranet site
  • 7. WHAT I’M DOINGI’m cataloging booksand NYT microfilm
  • 8. WHAT I’M DOINGAfter cataloging tworeference books, Iwrote up a blog postabout them
  • 9. WHAT I’M DOINGOrganizing the libraryand catalog, huntingfor missing books, anddoing some shelfreading
  • 10. WHAT I’M DOING• I’m shadowing news researchers to learn about databases and how they research• I performed a handful of researches: • Created database of heads of private schools in NYC for reporter • Verified a quote that an art critic made in late 1880s • Looked for a transcript that a reporter thought she saw • Looked for facts for upcoming 9/11 stories
  • 11. DIGITAL OBSERVATIONS• Increase use of authoritative online databases, websites and news sources. Decrease in buying reference books, magazines and newspapers.• Only researchers have access to people-finding databases such as LexisNexis Accurint because they charge per search. Researchers and few others have access to Factiva because it’s expensive• NYT’s defunct employee newsletters were scanned and went through OCR. We are now working on metadata for them
  • 12. ANALYSIS & EVALUATION• News research desk is busy• BUT despite their efficiency, some journalists think they can do their job. Some J-schools now require students study news research, which are taught by news librarians• All eyes are on WSJ, other major newspapers across U.S. as they write investigative stories without researchers’ help. Are they doing well?• Google is generally the last resort for answers; however Google Books is a popular, handy tool• There needs to be a standard in getting credit for stories NYT researchers help out with
  • 13. IF NOT NEWS RESEARCH,WHAT ELSE?• Newspapers and other media are cutting back. Here are some jobs that library students interested in news research should consider instead: • Law librarianship • Prospect research • Computer-assisted reporting and investigative reporting • Corporate librarianship • Investigator for police or political campaign

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