Archive for September, 2010

In case you haven’t noticed…

September 30th, 2010 by Jack

The American Community Survey link listed in my September 20th post now has updated 2009 one-year estimates, as I said it would sometime this month.  You can use these numbers for your beat memo (or anything else) if you wish.  Note that the 3-year and soon to be added 5-year estimates are not available yet.  Nor are Census 2010 numbers.

Also, Tinamarie Vella has a good post on AP services available through the J-school.

More on the memo

September 23rd, 2010 by Jack

My colleague Charles Wilson has posted some good tips for answering questions on the beat memo here and here.  Note that the first link includes some advice on question 30, which you’re welcome to follow, although this would not be the equal of the more ambitious and painstaking effort I described in class.  It’s probably the “second best” option, if you’re short on time or patience.

Also note that I’m leaving town tomorrow and won’t be back until the assignment is due.  You’re still welcome to e-mail me questions; I just wanted to give you a heads up that I may not respond as quickly as I normally would.

Community Districts part 2: the beat memo

September 20th, 2010 by Jack

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

Rush vs. Wikipedia, part 2

September 16th, 2010 by Jack

Check out this article in today’s Times.  Yeah, right, it wasn’t Wikipedia.  It was the June 31st issue of the Pensacola News Journal (chuckle, snort).

Anyway, speaking of the Times, here’s another interesting piece on forthcoming changes for Twitter.

Adventures with Wikipedia

September 14th, 2010 by Jack

Usually, weeks pass without Wikipedia playing any role in my research, but I had two experiences in recent days that I thought worth passing along.

First, last Friday, seconds before MSNBC’s Chris Jansing was about to go on the air with a story about boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s latest foray into the news, she asked if he had been a champion.  I immediately answered yes, and then knowing I had precious little time to check any details, Googled him.  Watching me, Chris asked to view the Wikipedia link that appeared in the results, and we saw Mayweather had won nine championships in five weight classes.  I said we can’t vouch for Wikipedia, and she agreed, making sure to couch what she ultimately said on the air with the words “something like” nine championships in five weight classes.  I felt pretty good with her disclaimer.  With more time to check it out later, it essentially turned out to be correct (boxing championships are not as black and white as championships in most sports, so it’s debatable).  Let me add that most research I do is not under that tight of a deadline.  Given even 10 minutes, I wouldn’t have checked Wikipedia at all.

Then today, I got a research request at the Times asking for an article in the Pensacola News Journal from June 31, 2003.  Of course, there is no such date as June 31st, and the requester said the citation came from a Wikipedia entry on Judge Roger Vinson.  It was supposedly an article about the judge having stuffed bear heads above the door to his courtroom and removing them under pressure.  Checking Nexis, I found no stories like that in the Pensacola paper or elsewhere, and told the requester I thought the entry may be false.  He called the judge’s chambers and found out it was completely made up.  The judge’s wife had even heard Rush Limbaugh repeat it and freaked.  Minutes later, Wikipedia had been revised, with the passage in question removed.

I guess you can consider this an update to the Wikipedia video Barbara Gray shared at the Nexis orientation.

Testing the new server

September 11th, 2010 by Jack

Please update your bookmarks for The Craft of Research, as the URL has changed.  The old one will no longer be updated, and will soon be gone.

While I’m here on this day, I may as well link to my 9/11 research story that I posted a couple of years ago and mentioned during class this week.

Nexis and Factiva: orientation recap

September 3rd, 2010 by Jack

What are Nexis and Factiva?  They are commercial competitors that archive the backfiles of thousands of publications, including newspapers, magazines, newsletters, transcripts and other material, such as major blogs.  (As Barbara Gray said, “the rich man’s Google.”)

  • The difference between the two services is not significant.
  • Since it’s owned by Dow Jones, Factiva has the exlusive online full text content of the DJ wires, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters wires.
  • The command languages are different, but the functions are the same.

 Using the services–key points:

  • It is expected that this type of background work should be performed for every work assignment to bring context and details to the story. 
  • It should bring to light any article that’s already been written on the topic, person, event or company. 
  • For the most part, these publications have been vetted for errors. 
  • This is searching the deep web, that which doesn’t show up when search engines crawl the web.  Cannot get this stuff on Google, for the most part.
  • It’s all tagged/indexed consistently, resulting in more precise results.

To help you use the services, Barbara has compiled separate guides for Nexis and Factiva.

Jack’s bonus tip: Access World News archives backfiles of many smaller publications not found in Nexis or Factiva, including AM New York, Metro, and the Staten Island Advance back to 1991.  To find where any given publication is archived online, use our Research Center’s E-Journal Search.

Be wise (not Wise) with Twitter

September 2nd, 2010 by Jack

Although Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise did prove a point this week that fact checking is essential, he also proved that having a Twitter account is dangerous if you’re an idiot.

Please take both lessons to heart.