Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Computer-assisted reporting seminar

7,475 views

Published on

A seminar presented to interns at the Ottawa Citizen, to encourage them to learn computer-assisted reporting techniques. Fairly basic and introductory, but lots of samples presented you can scalp for your own CAR seminar.

Published in: News & Politics, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

Computer-assisted reporting seminar

  1. 1. Computer-Assisted Reporting (CAR)
  2. 2. Computer-Assisted Reporting Better title: Data-Assisted Reporting. Or… reporting using data instead of, or along with, documents.
  3. 3. Useful data • Databases • Spreadsheets • Email • Maps
  4. 7. Understand data tables  Fields (or columns) contain types of data.  Records (or rows) contain the information you want .
  5. 8. Why use data? • No more “according to…” State as fact, don’t attribute. • Uncovers stories even the subjects don’t know. • Confirms the obvious; reveals the unexpected.
  6. 34. Other CAR ideas • Overpass inspection records. • Mayoralty campaign donors. • Ambulance response times. • Health/safety reports in city-run apartment buildings. • Complaints against taxi drivers.
  7. 35. More CAR ideas • Pet licenses by postal code. • Single men/women by census tract. • Day most marriage licenses. • Most common street name.
  8. 36. Data sources • Inspection reports • Complaints • Incidents reports • Discipline records • Registrations and licenses Check reporting requirements.
  9. 37. How … <ul><li>Identify the data you want. </li></ul><ul><li>Go get it. </li></ul><ul><li>Format the data. </li></ul><ul><li>Crunch the numbers. </li></ul><ul><li>Then start reporting. </li></ul>
  10. 38. The CAR Inverse Pyramid of Aggravation  Obtaining data (hard) Formatting data Analyzing data Reporting Writing (easy)
  11. 39. Where to get data • Ask for it. • Download from the Web. • Scrape from the Web. • Build it yourself from documents. • FOI or ATIP.
  12. 40. How to FOI/ATIP?
  13. 41. FOI/ATIP hurdles • Privacy. • Price. • General stupidity.
  14. 42. FOI/ATIP strategies • Ask for everything except names (and sometimes addresses) • Negotiate. • Appeal.
  15. 43. Negotiating for data • Request a sample of the data. • Arrange a meeting with the ATIP/FOI person or the data expert. • Eliminate fields that need to be severed. • Modify your request.
  16. 44. Finding the story • Think vertically. Look at columns. • Cross-tab columns. • Chart over time. • Look for patterns. • Dig down from data..
  17. 46. Spreadsheets • “ Smart paper,” great for adding up totals, calculating percentages and other data summary. • Limited to 65,000 records.
  18. 48. Database managers • Quickly organizes large numbers of records. • No 65,000-record limit. • Can summarize data, too.
  19. 50. Mapping or GIS • Puts data on a map. • Analyzes data based on location and distance.
  20. 53. Software for Mac • Spreadsheet: Excel ($), OpenOffice (open source) • Database manager: Filemaker($), MySQL (open source) • Mapping : QGIS (open source), Google Maps mash-ups.
  21. 54. Software for PC • Spreadsheet: Excel ($), OpenOffice (open source) • Database manager: Access($), MySQL (open source) • Mapping : ArcView ($, Citizen owns a copy), MapInfo ($), Google Maps mash-ups.
  22. 55. Problems with CAR • Long lead times. • Time consuming. • Requires software and hardware. • Extra work not seen by readers (or editors)
  23. 56. Scale • A little goes a long way • Think story, not series • Keep and reuse your data
  24. 57. Why learn CAR? • Few doing it in Canada • Easy online components • Useful in almost any beat • Works in print, broadcast, web
  25. 58. Resources • nicar.org • caj.ca • ire.org • thescoop.org
  26. 59. Ask for help • (613) 235-6685 • [email_address] • http://www.sushiboy.org/car.pdf • http://www.sushiboy.org/car.ppt -30-

×