JOURN 305 - Computer Assisted Reporting


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This lecture focuses on computer research techniques in reporting.

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JOURN 305 - Computer Assisted Reporting

  1. 1. Computer-Assisted Reporting Chapter 11 JOURN 305
  2. 2. Online Press Services <ul><li>Many major companies have a corporate site where you can get the latest press releases and earnings reports </li></ul><ul><li>There are also several aggregate sites, such as PRNewswire and Businesswire </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Future <ul><li>Google is in the middle of a huge text archiving project that aims to scan every published book </li></ul><ul><li>The resulting database will be searchable on Google </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some copyright complaints have hindered the project </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Online Databases <ul><li>Google </li></ul><ul><ul><li>General search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>University research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TV transcripts </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Using Databases <ul><li>Full-text databases: All content is searchable…not just the headline or “abstract” </li></ul>
  6. 6. Search Tips <ul><li>Boolean search commands: A technique to get better search results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use AND, OR, and NOT in between your keywords </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Search Tips <ul><li>Use quotes to search for a specific set of words </li></ul><ul><li>For example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Search: “United States” will give you all items with the words “United States” rather than items with “United” and “States” </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Online Databases <ul><li>Edgar database of SEC filings </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  9. 9. U.S. Census Statistics <ul><li>Population statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau are available at </li></ul>
  10. 10. Government Transcripts <ul><li>Read transcripts of presidential speeches and other government meetings at </li></ul>
  11. 11. Legal Databases <ul><li>Get the text of statutes and proposed laws from the Library of Congress at http:// </li></ul>
  12. 12. Online Resources <ul><li>Legal Case Rulings </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Review database of significant course cases past and present </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Online Databases <ul><li>Lexis-Nexis </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  14. 14. Book Text Search: “Search Inside” <ul><li>Amazon’s “Search Inside” feature allows you to search the text of published books </li></ul>
  15. 15. Public Information Search <ul><li>Some controversy over how much information should be made public </li></ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Megan’s Law database for registered sex offenders </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Library of Congress <ul><li>Library of Congress entire database is online at: </li></ul><ul><li>This is a free online resource containing one of the world’s largest databases </li></ul>
  17. 17. Ask A Librarian <ul><li>Library of Congress has also started a free research service: Ask a Librarian </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>This web site allows you to ask free research questions to a librarians </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They will send you an answer within five days </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Copyright Database <ul><li>Online database of copyright filings available at: </li></ul><ul><li>http:// / </li></ul>
  19. 19. Freedom of Information Act <ul><li>Enacted in 1966 since the public has a “right to know” what the government is doing </li></ul><ul><li>Government is required to disclose records to the public upon request </li></ul>
  20. 20. Freedom of Information Act <ul><li>There are some exemptions </li></ul><ul><li>This applies only to federal agencies and does not include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Congress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Courts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State and local governments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Private Businesses </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. FOIA Requests <ul><li>To make a request for a government document, you must be very specific </li></ul><ul><li>The request must be in writing </li></ul><ul><li>There is no centralized FOIA office or staff…so the request must be made to the specific federal government agency that has your document </li></ul>
  22. 22. Trendspotting <ul><li>Internet databases can be used to determine trends that might not be otherwise be exposed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Political donations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Statistically significant developments </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Racial profiling trends </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>School score trends </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Election trends </li></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Congressional Records <ul><li>Database of congressional records is accessible at: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Follow the Money <ul><li>Find out how much money is being given to politicians at: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>Find out individual donors to campaigns and causes at: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Non-profit site that aims to monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Getting Tips from the Net <ul><li>You can find good tips by keeping in touch with bulletin boards, chat rooms, and Usenet postings </li></ul><ul><li>BEWARE of false information! </li></ul>
  28. 28. Use Caution <ul><li>Always consider the reliability and credibility of the source – especially if your tip comes from the Internet </li></ul>
  29. 29. Things to Consider <ul><li>Authority </li></ul><ul><li>Accuracy </li></ul><ul><li>Objectivity </li></ul><ul><li>Currency </li></ul><ul><li>Coverage </li></ul>