Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

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.

Maneuver journalism

April 29th, 2010 by Jack

Although our final research lesson of the semester was scheduled to be on politics and elections, we’re scrapping that next week in favor of something different.

We’ll justify this with Wayne Svoboda’s allowance for “maneuver journalism,” which gives Craft profs the leeway to reshape the syllabus based on what we think is most valuable to you at the moment.

So while I’ll admit politics and elections might be a more valuable research lesson in the grand scheme, your current profs recognize that spring is not prime election season, and right now you’re working on a stimulus project, with a research quiz soon to follow.  That in mind, we’ll kill two birds with one stone next week and assign an in-class stimulus-related research exercise very similar in design to the upcoming quiz.

Come prepared, thank us later, complain about us to Wayne, whatever.  Just remember I invoked the phrase “maneuver journalism.” 


P.S. to crushed “politicos”:  Feel free to peruse my notes from a 2008 politics lesson or visit the Political Reporting Wiki compiled by Consuella Askew and Tinamarie Vella.

Schedule change

April 21st, 2010 by Jack

Due to your court visit Tuesday, the court research lesson originally scheduled for this week has been pushed back to Wednesday, April 28th.  I’m also aware the visit precluded you from attending the Facts on File research clinic, which was unfortunate.

On a brighter note, we have more class bylines to report…

Vishal Persaud had a piece in the Mott Haven Herald about an after-school program at P.S. 18 in the Bronx.

Michael Cohen wrote another story about a Golden Gloves boxer with a side gig in modeling, this time for Urban Latino’s web site.

Today’s bonus: The Library of Congress will be housing Twitter’s entire archive, and users may not have a chance to opt out!

A clarification, if not a correction

March 3rd, 2010 by Jack

During yesterday’s lesson, I said the New York State Inmate Lookup did not have everyone who has been imprisoned in the database, and while that’s still true, it’s not as I explained it.  Here’s the explanation of who’s not in the database, directly from the “Who’s Listed Here?” section of the site…

Everyone sentenced to state prison since the early 1970’s is listed in the database, except youthful offenders and those who have had their convictions set aside by a court.

The example I was thinking of when I mentioned some lower-level offenders not being listed was from the New York State Sex Offender Registry.  Here’s the explanation from that site…

Police and law enforcement have access to information on all sex offenders (levels 1, 2 and 3).  However, under the law, information on level 1 (low-risk) offenders is not available on the public website.  Only level 2 and 3 offenders are listed on the public website.

Sorry about that.  I’ll mark down my own grade!

R.I.P. Jerry Bornstein

February 24th, 2010 by Jack

Former NBC researcher and CUNY J-School Research Adjunct Jerry Bornstein has passed away.  Read about Jerry here and watch a video of him talking about his job below.  The last minute of the video is especially poignant.

A second thought on names

February 9th, 2010 by Jack

While my point today about checking the spelling of names is still valid, my response to Eugenia about not trusting people on their own names probably deserves an addendum.  First of all, I admit that people are less likely to lie about their names than they are about their ages or titles, which definitely need verification beyond their word for it.  But more significantly, there are a lot of times when you’re simply not going to be able to get the spelling of someone’s name by asking the person.  What if the person is deceased?  Or missing?  Or just arrested?  Or in some other position where you’re not going to be able to ask him or her?  You need to know these “best practices” for reasons beyond just not trusting people on their own names.

Congrats to our latest entrepreneurs!

December 11th, 2009 by Jack

Some worthy recipients.  Much love to my former students Jenni Avins, Ben Fractenberg and Collin Orcutt, in particular.

A research success story!

November 17th, 2009 by Jack

Another golden nugget from Heath Meriwether’s blog.

I can’t say it enough.  Nexis and Factiva, people, Nexis and Factiva.

God bless you, Trudy Lieberman!

November 4th, 2009 by Jack

Read the last sentence of this Q&A with one of our school’s finest.  I mean, read the whole thing, but don’t miss the last sentence!

Latest sign of the apocalypse: Jayson Blair is speaking about journalism ethics?  Seriously?  Jayson Blair?