Archive for October, 2008

Hang in there!

October 30th, 2008 by Jack

For the few who still haven’t received my review of your beat memo, I promise, I’m almost done.  By Sunday at the latest, I’ll finish them up and post a comprehensive recap of the whole review process on the blog.  If you have already received my comments and think I was a little rough, at least be encouraged that your classmates got pretty much the same treatment.  Even among the few “check-plus” folks, nobody was perfect.

While you wait for the recap, feel free to rake me over the coals a little.  I’m not above constructive criticism of my own work.

More student bylines

October 27th, 2008 by Jack

Kudos to Karina Ioffee of Steve Strasser’s class for her slay sentencing story in the Queens Chronicle and Collin Orcutt of Tim Harper’s class for his NFL roundup at  (But Collin, I beg you, don’t talk up my Saints anymore.)

More politics-related items

October 24th, 2008 by Jack

First of all, congratulations to Maya Pope-Chappell of Tim Harper’s class, as she appears to have quickly become the new “go to” person for political stories at the Amsterdam News.  Just this week, she scored bylines on Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama and the City Council’s vote to extend term limits.  Nothing like getting thrown into the fire on big news right away.  Make sure to complete the FREE AmNews registration so you can read all Maya’s stories as she continues her gig.

Secondly, to follow up on our polling resources discussion from Tuesday, check out this story, which calls into question the reliability of polls.  Thanks to Sandeep Junnarkar for the heads up.

Research-inspired enterprise stories

October 20th, 2008 by Jack

Still trying to come up with an idea?  The free commuter daily newspaper AM New York does these kinds of articles a lot.  Check out the cover stories from August 25th and October 20th.

Lesson #4: Politics and elections

October 20th, 2008 by Jack

Rather than a handout, this lesson centers around the school’s Presidential Election wiki.

Our specific focus is on resources in four of the listed categories:

  1. Aggregator tools (for candidate backgrounds, voting records, issue positions and fact checking)
  2. Government links (for local board of elections information)
  3. Campaign finance
  4. Polling data

Refreshed and ready for the second half

October 13th, 2008 by Jack
Jack helps rebuild in the Upper Ninth Ward

Erik Kelt and Jack Styczynski help rebuild in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

OK folks, I’m back from New Orleans and ready to tackle your beat memos.  I’ll start the grading process ASAP and try to get them back to you next week, but keep in mind I’ve got two sections to handle, so forgive me if it takes a little longer.

Kudos to Kate Zhao!

October 12th, 2008 by Jack

Another student in Tim Harper’s class earns a byline.

Congrats to Karina Ioffee!

October 5th, 2008 by Jack

A student in Steve Strasser’s class earns a byline.

Advice on the CD beat memo

October 1st, 2008 by Jack

I’ve been getting the same questions from several of you about where to find religious and voter breakdowns by CD.  Most of you seem to be having no trouble finding the information by county, which I assume you’re locating via the resources listed on my blog post of September 20th.  That’s good.

Anyway, the short answer is, I don’t think there is a place where you can find the information you’re seeking online, so you’re going to have to dig a little deeper.   Calls to the board of elections or maybe even the Community Boards may shed some light on where you can get the voter info.  I would think someone is keeping track of it at the CD level…you’re just going to have to go beyond the computer.  You might want to split up the task of making calls among classmates and sharing what you learn, rather than everybody flooding the state and local boards of elections with calls asking the same question.  Regarding the religious info, I have a feeling you may not find that at all.  I know I mentioned this in Tim’s class, if not Steve’s.  The latest county info on Social Explorer isn’t even that recent (2000), and it’s not compiled by a government entity that would likely have any interest in breaking it down by CD.  However, you might try contacting the organizations that do the compilations (listed on Social Explorer) to see if they can provide any help.  But again, I’d recommend designating a class rep. 

The bottom line is, sometimes you just have to contact people.  That’s why “people finding” was the first research lesson of this course.

As you continue working on your CD beat memo, also know that your research grade will be based primarily on your sourcing of answers.  I’m especially concerned with your displaying a command of the resources that have been reviewed in class, listed on the handouts and posted on the blog.  As such, I’m expecting either direct links to your answers or a detailed description of how you found them.  A general citation such as “ReferenceUSA,” “Nexis,” or “” is NOT acceptable, regardless of whether or not your answer is correct.  Detailed sourcing takes priority.  Bonus points for solid sourcing not taught in class or noted on handouts or the blog.  You’re always welcome to teach me something (such as where to find religious and voter info by CD online, if it exists, for example).  Aim to impress.