Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

In case you missed it…

August 23rd, 2012 by Jack

A sampling of what caught my attention this summer:

Government cutbacks hurting research? You be the judge. The Bureau of Justice Statistics will soon cease funding the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statisics. And the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey could be next on the chopping block.

Oh well, at least New York City put its Green Book on the web.  Finally!

New Orleans will be without a daily newspaper soon, after the Times-Picayune announced it’s cutting back to three days a week, with a much-reduced staff (more here). Of course, things are rough all over.

Speaking of rough, my employer was the subject of a less-than-flattering article in New York magazine. The Times is also ending a partnership with the J-school and my favorite reporter has left. I’ll definitely miss working with Pete Thamel.

Elsewhere, CNBC’s Darren Rovell provided an example of how to get burned by not properly checking someone’s background (as well as how not to apologize).

ESPN’s Lynn Hoppes also provided an example of what not to do. So did The New Yorker’s Jonah Lehrer and Time’s Fareed Zakaria (more here and HERE).

On the lighter side, we’re apparently in for some crazy new web domain suffixes.

I loved the Times’ tributes to pickup basketball in May and July.

Tim Tebow has company living the abstinent lifestyle in New York.

I was fascinated by the debate about whether or not women can have it all.

(But who needs it all? Like Tim Kreider, I am the laziest ambitious person I know.)

And last but not least, the J-school hired a superb new research adjunct…

Hamming it up with fellow research prof Sandra Jamison.  Welcome aboard, Sandra!

Hamming it up with fellow research prof Sandra Jamison. Welcome aboard, Sandra!

Congratulations to the Class of 2011!

December 15th, 2011 by Jack

For all those who couldn’t attend yesterday’s graduation ceremony, Alva French’s inspirational commencement address is below.  Hopefully, her classmates are as “undeterred” as she is.  I only wish I could also post Christina Diaz’s rousing rendition of the national anthem. You can sing at my gig anytime, Christina! Anyway, here’s Alva, who gets one final A in research for using 2010 Census data in her speech…

Alva French, M.A., ’11 from NYCity News Service on Vimeo.

Quiz recap

December 7th, 2011 by Jack

The research quizzes have been reviewed and graded, and I would call the results typical.  There was certainly more grade differentiation than for the beat memo.

Tip of the hat to Claudia Bracholdt for the highest score.  Among other impressive answers, she was the only person to get full credit on the question about former employees of a business.  I knew that would be one of the more time-consuming questions, if not the most difficult.  Claudia correctly used the Google strategy to find LinkedIn profiles that I demonstrated during last week’s lesson.

Another question that stumped all but one person was the query about my colleagues at NBC News.  That required using the Leadership Library, as demonstrated in my lesson about finding sources.

As for some of the other questions on the quiz, one thing I end up saying every semester is that a lot of you need to bone up on Nexis and Factiva.  Most students are too addicted to Google, which isn’t enough to do good research.

And speaking of banging my head against a wall, I can’t believe a couple of repeat offenders misspelled names again, even when they got full credit for the bonus question about spelling names!  Talk about irony.  One of you pointed out that the Times e-mail I sent out last month is also posted on the web site, so now you can refer to it forevermore.  Eat it, drink it, sleep it, memorize it.

Beyond that, most perplexing were several answers to the questions about 40th precinct crime stats and the Bronx Supreme Court civil cases involving someone named David Lewis.  The former was perplexing because everyone knew to use CompStat, but a bunch didn’t read the report correctly to get full credit.  The latter was similarly perplexing because many of those who knew to use the New York Unified Court System eCourts database didn’t process my requirement for Supreme civil cases, which was emphasized (in bold) in the quiz question the same way it is in this paragraph.  WebCrims is not going to find you a civil case.  And WebCivil Local is not going to find you a Supreme Court case.  You need to use WebCivil Supreme, which seems pretty straightforward to me.

I was also a little surprised that more of you didn’t get the two questions that ReferenceUSA could have answered.  Not that they were particularly easy, but I did talk about ReferenceUSA multiple times in class, so I thought it was fairly obvious I’d have related questions on the quiz.  I even mentioned last week that the quiz would feature several questions requiring use of the school’s premium subscription databases, which would include ReferenceUSA (along with Nexis, Factiva and Leadership Library).

On the bright side, many of you got credit for the questions on locating a sex offender, getting information on a lawyer, determining the owner of a web domain and tracking down info on the deceased.  None of those should have been especially difficult or time consuming, so they were good ones to knock off early.

Anyway, onward and upward.  Looking forward to your enterprise final drafts.

The power of people finding

September 28th, 2011 by Jack

Here’s the promised post about when people finding and football intersect.  It’s nothing without pictures! 

Recently, a friend who runs the Phoenix of New Orleans e-mailed me to see if I could find updated contact information for some people who were candidates to have their Hurricane Katrina damaged homes rebuilt by the organization.  Using techniques I demonstrated in class Tuesday, I found them, and ultimately a family was chosen.  Obviously, I felt great about it, but what I didn’t know at the time is that the project was being funded by Jahri Evans, Lance Moore, Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper of my beloved New Orleans Saints.  As such, I was invited out to dinner with them after Sunday’s conquest of the Houston Texans. WHO DAT!

With Saints guard Jahri Evans, PNOLA's Jim Coningsby and the Rush family.

With Saints guard Jahri Evans, PNOLA's Jim Coningsby and the Rush family.

The bonus:  A must-read profile on a Saints hero and more pictures… (more…)

Seeing the bigger picture on crime

September 14th, 2011 by Jack

After yesterday’s class, I just wanted to make a point on crime reporting that I felt may not have been made clear.

That is, there are still important stories to be written after the gritty details of individual crimes have been reported.  I want to defend the “feature” stories that may be written a week out, or even later.

For example, I would contend it’s impossible to put together a very good profile of a “perp” within the first 24 hours of a crime.  What makes him (or her) tick?  Why might he have committed the crime?  Answering those questions is going to require research and talking to as many people as you can after the initial chaos of a crime has subsided.

You’ll be writing a profile story soon.

As another example, there are crime “trend” stories that require the same kind of time investment to do properly.  Is a certain type of crime on the rise?  Is it a bigger problem in a specific geographic area?  Why?  You’ll need statistical evidence and expert opinion to detail and explain the trend.

This second kind of story would fall into the “enterprise” category, which is another of your assignments this semester.

So while it’s great to beat the competition on the details of a crime, that’s not the end of crime reporting.  Some of what I’ve already taught and will be teaching in upcoming lessons will be particularly useful for those profile and enterprise “feature” stories.

Ten years later

September 11th, 2011 by Jack

Back in the studio at NBC today.  A few years ago, I posted my memories of September 11th, 2001.  Here are some of the research requests I worked on that day:

  • Background information on Barbara Olson and David Angell
  • Contacts for mass terrorism organizations
  • Death tolls of other atrocities
  • Map of the World Trade Center area
  • Number of workers in the WTC

Think about how you might find these items today.

Full circle

May 2nd, 2011 by Jack

It’s especially good to be working at NBC today, remembering my day here on 9/11.  I just wish Times Square Church pastor David Wilkerson could have seen this…

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Don’t forget our special court research session on Wednesday!  Here’s an example of my latest court research success.  (Yup.  Even college basketball reporters need court research.)

Speaking of the Census…

March 28th, 2011 by Jack

Librarians are organizing to save from budget cuts the United States Statistical Abstract, a Census Bureau reference work that has been around since 1878.  It’s a resource I had included in my Census lesson last year.

An excellent example

March 7th, 2011 by Jack

Here’s a research-inspired story by a CUNY J-school graduate now working at NBC:

Merry Christmas, online obsessed!

December 21st, 2010 by Jack