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Power Reporting Resources For Journalists

A bookshelf on
computer-assisted reporting,
news research & statistics

Please send your suggestions and read the CAR syllabi.

1. CAR Overviews

2. Online Research

3. News Research

4. Public Records

5. Numeracy

6. Software Guides

CAR Overviews

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  • Philip Meyer, Precision Journalism: A Reporter's Introduction to Social Science Methods, 2002. (See link there for the hardcover edition.) Updated version of Meyer's 1973 book, without which we wouldn't have most of the others on this list. As Meyer wrote, "If you are a journalist, or thinking of becoming one, you may have already noticed this: They are raising the ante on what it takes to be a journalist." The previous version is available free on the Web.

  • Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect, 2001. A provocative and thrilling description of why we're doing this.

  • James S. Ettema and Theodore L. Glasser, Custodians of Conscience: Investigative Journalism and Public Virture, 1998. (Not a how-to book, but a careful examination of the assumptions and methods of investigative reporters.)

  • Bruce Garrison, Computer-Assisted Reporting, 2nd Ed., 1998. The most comprehensive text on computer-assisted reporting. Garrison takes readers into newsrooms to see how computers are being used every day to gather news, and why. A professor at the University of Miami, Garrison gives many story examples, and interviews many journalists. This is not a "click here" book. Chapters in this 487-page paperback edition: The Next Wave; Using Personal Computers; Online Information; Online and CD-ROM Databases; Using the Internet; Government Databases; Accessing Public Databases; Portable CAR; News Research; Word Processors and Personal Information Managers; Merging Data Analysis With News Stories; Building and Editing Databases; Spreadsheets and Basic Data Analysis; Relational Databases and Mapping; Statistics and Advanced Analysis; Survey Research as CAR; the Computer-Literate Journalist.

  • Brant Houston, Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide, 2nd Ed., 1999. Probably the most widely used text on CAR, with clear, step-by-step instructions by Brant Houston, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a professor at the University of Missouri. Especially strong on spreadsheets, databases and acquiring government data. Touches on online research, statistical software and mapping. Chapters in this 224-page, spiral-bound paperback: High-Tech Journalism: What Computer-Assisted Reporting Is and Why Journalists Need to Use It; Computer Basics: Translating the Technical into the Practical; Spreadsheets: Conquering Numbers; Database Managers: Going from the Rolodex to Matchmaking; Mapping: Finding Patterns and Illustrating the Point; A Few Words About Statistics: A Brief Foray Into Social Research Tools; Getting Stories By Going Online: Searching, Finding, and Downloading; Obtaining Databases: Locating, Negotiating and Importing; Dirty Data: Pitfalls and Solutions; Getting Going: Strategies for Stories.

  • Nora Paul, ed., When Nerds and Words Collide: Reflections on the Development of Computer Assisted Reporting, 1999. A 52-page collection of 23 essays by many of the leading practitioners and educators in computer-assisted reporting. Available from the Poynter Institute, (888) 769-6837 or e-mail to info@poynter.org.

  • Bruce Garrison, Successful Strategies for Computer-Assisted Reporting, 1996.

  • Lisa C. Miller, Power Journalism: Computer-Assisted Reporting, 1997.

  • Margaret H. Defleur, Computer-Assisted Investigative Reporting: Development and Methodology, 1997.

  • Tracy L. Barnett, ed., 100 Computer-Assisted Stories, 1995.

Online Research

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News Research

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Public Records

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Software Guides

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Note: This section is woefully out of date, but it gives examples. Often readers want two kinds of software guides. First, a tutorial, for learning a new program from scratch. Second, a slim, alphabetical refererence, like Microsoft's "Field Guides," for looking up the problem of the moment.

In alliance with Amazon.com.

You can reach Bill Dedman by e-mail at Bill@PowerReporting.com.

COPYRIGHT 1997-2005 Bill Dedman