Archive for September, 2009

Kudos to Kerri MacDonald!

September 29th, 2009 by Jack

We have our first class byline of the semester, a Queens Courier story about the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts’ new home.  Congratulations…Canada breaks the ice!

More burning questions from recent days…

Today’s burning questions

September 26th, 2009 by Jack

Is Twitter really worth a billion bucks?

Is this what we should learn from the Mark Whicker debacle?

In light of the ACORN videos and their subsequent media coverage, does this Slate column make a good case for “activist” journalism?

On a related note, could Media Matters, despite some good points on fact-checking and the like, be more apoplectic about it? (And would they be if this weren’t “conservative” activism?)

Regarding the Google Book Search controversy, have you seen the New York Times topic page and the Open Book Alliance site?

Also on the topic of digital archives, will this joint effort take off?

Last but not least, did you know you’re already working for the Times? (See video below.)

Rob Williams gets an A

September 23rd, 2009 by Jack

Don’t forget the two questions that need to be addressed when using statistics in a story:

  1. Are you sure?
  2. Says who?

In other words, you need to check the accuracy of your numbers and must cite their source.

Today’s bonus: I’ve posted about Twitter here before, but these Washington Post videos are flat out hilarious.

Double bonus: Just how many nuts in ACORN?  Sheesh!  San Bernardino and San Diego too?  Update: In a story about James O’Keefe, NBC Nightly News just reported that there are more videos to come…

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Tonight’s program also had an interesting spelling note…

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Community Districts part 2: the beat memo

September 21st, 2009 by Jack

Along with, the following resources may also help you compile information for your beat memo:

Worthwhile reading

September 19th, 2009 by Jack

If you’re looking for more on the Google Book Search brouhaha I mentioned in my “summer reading” post, I discovered a pretty thorough bibliography on the subject, going back to late 2003.

Or if you’re keeping tabs on the upcoming New York City elections, check this out.  Races from the mayor on down.

Today’s bonus: I’m expecting big things from this New York Times series on Toxic Waters.  It’s a great example of what I mean by “research-inspired enterprise.”  The Times web site also had some fine bells and whistles last week on the one-year anniversary of the financial crisis.

International research resources

September 16th, 2009 by Jack

Note to my Craft I students: The lesson handout below is intended for International Reporting students, although you’re welcome to take a look, of course.

Note to International Reporting students: The following handout is more robust than my typical handout, but it’s a big world and I’ve got only one crack at you this semester, so I threw in the kitchen sink.  We’ll have time to review a handful of the resources in class, but you should check out the others as well.

ACORN: That coulda been me!

September 14th, 2009 by Jack

LOL…OK, maybe not, but when I first investigated what group I should volunteer with for Hurricane Katrina relief, I did look into ACORN before I decided on Habitat for Humanity.

No matter what you think of hidden-camera journalism or the motives of conservatives, these videos just fascinate me.  First Baltimore, then DC, now New York.  I’m laughing because I think the guy even looks a little like me.

So is this how I should dress for our next class?

This week’s advice

September 12th, 2009 by Jack

Don’t do what Mark Whicker did.  (The research was fine.  The column was awful.)

Today’s bonus: Here’s a good reaction to last week’s Michael Kinsley column on corrections.

Nexis and Factiva: keep practicing!

September 10th, 2009 by Jack

Some of you are having more success than others with the databases, but since none of you are “experts” yet, I’d suggest doing some extra searches on topics that interest you.  It might be a little more fun that way, and it will definitely be good practice.  I’ll be sending more individual comments on your daybook research assignment over the next few days.

Today’s bonus: Since I mentioned the Polling Report web site in class this week, I should also point out that our school subscribes to a similar service called Polling the Nations, which aggregates polls taken both in the U.S. and abroad.   Check it out.

Tomorrow’s bonus:  Flashback to a flashback.

Community Districts part 1:

September 7th, 2009 by Jack

Points of emphasis for critical thinking:

  1. is going to be a (if not the) primary research source for your Community District.
  2. Like almost all government web sites, the bulk of “the good stuff” is buried deep within  Never think the home page of a government web site is going to be intuitive.  You need to dig.
  3. Do you necessarily trust every piece of information released by the government?