Archive for May, 2010


May 25th, 2010 by Jack

First and foremost, nice job by everyone on the State of the Stimulus site.  It looks terrific.

On an individual basis, congrats to Jordan Shakeshaft for this piece on “The Local” blog about the Pratt Institute Fashion Show, including video.

Bring on summer!  Have a good one.

Quiz recap

May 15th, 2010 by Jack

Overall, I’m pleased with the quiz results.  Certainly more pleased than I was after the enterprise assignment, when I missed out on reviewing a lot of first drafts and research suffered as a result.  Compared to last spring, when only one student scored in double digits on the quiz, this year more than half the class scored over 10.  Leading the pack was Lisa Riordan Seville, the first student to get a perfect score on any of my quizzes.  She got full credit on every question, including the bonus.  Huge “shout out” to Lisa!

Here’s a rundown on some of the more notable quiz questions:

  • The “very easy” answer to the Factiva vs. Nexis question was that Factiva has the Wall Street Journal and Nexis doesn’t.  For those of you who didn’t get that one, I hope you’ll remember it now.  It’s pretty important.  I think some of you still need to brush up on Nexis and Factiva in general.
  • I was pleasantly surprised so many of you knew to use the CIA World Factbook for the Haiti statistics question.  Last spring, most students missed on a similar query.
  • The questions about school shootings and executions were particularly designed to make sure you were checking out the blog for resources beyond just those I reviewed in class.  Both answers could be had from sites listed on the “cops and crime” lesson handout.  Some of you apparently compiled school shootings in another way though, which was fine, but probably used up more quiz time than you needed to.
  • The question about men’s clothing stores turned out to be the trickiest, albeit unintentionally.  Several of you thought that could be answered with ReferenceUSA.  I know I warned that I might put a ReferenceUSA question on the quiz, but ultimately, I decided against it.  I wasn’t trying to trick you.  The tip off, in this case, should have been the words “as of 2007.”  How would ReferenceUSA help you find how many men’s clothing stores existed three years ago?  I’d probably feel worse about this question had I not also specified in class on April 6th that you might want to remember the Census Bureau’s “Facts for Features” page for the “you know what.”  That’s where the answer was.  Some of you did get it.  Just FYI, I’ve discovered as time has passed that ReferenceUSA is not especially reliable for compiling numbers of businesses, because there’s too much overlap and variability with the yellow page (or SIC) headings.
  • Several of you also got tripped up on the PUMA question, losing partial credit because you gave me the 3-year ACS estimates from 2006-08.  While those numbers may be a little more reliable, I specifically asked for the latest estimate, which would be the 1-year numbers from 2008.  Some of you even correctly stated that the 1-year estimates are superior because they’re “more current” (on the next question), yet still gave me the 3-year estimates.
  • Lastly, the “Djang question” was the one I would consider the most difficult, so I was happy some of you got it.  I never would have put that one on the quiz had I not gone over it in class, because even if you had been able to figure it out, it likely would have been unfairly time consuming.  Even I took awhile to find that info when I was first researching the USA Swimming story.  But evidently, some of you were paying close attention in class, which was gratifying.  I should also note I specifically put the date of birth question in there to emphasize you can sometimes get that kind of personal information from court records, when needed.

That’s all, folks!  You know my blog and e-mail addresses, so I’ll still be here for you in the future. 

Good luck,

Jack (As of today, I’ve survived 15 years as a news researcher!)

Thought for the day: I’m glad I’m not on Facebook.   Do you trust these people?  (I don’t trust Google either.)

And some good news…We may be one step closer to the faster FOIA I mentioned earlier in the semester.

Quiz, etc.

May 9th, 2010 by Jack

I’ve finished composing your research quiz, which is now set for Tuesday morning.  You’ll have an hour to answer 15 questions and one bonus.  Again, it’s “open blog,” so make sure you know your way around these parts ahead of time.  And please be sure to come to class.  As is the case with the news quizzes, you’re either there or you aren’t.  No makeups allowed.

So have you heard yet that the New York City News Service has the best web site ever?  OK, OK, a slight exaggeration, but “big ups” to Jere Hester and all the contributors on their great honor this past week. 

Oh, and by the way, it’s great to see Michael Cohen getting love from another faculty blog.

Another byline for Michael

May 1st, 2010 by Jack

Michael Cohen’s report on chatter in some circles about the political future of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie found a home on

Today’s bonus: Tinamarie Vella of the Research Center had a good post this week on polling resources.