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Power Reporting Resources For Journalists

Power Reporting
campus training in
computer-assisted reporting,
writing and editing


Taught in the newsrooms of The Oregonian; The Virginian-Pilot; The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; The Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Oklahoman; The Richmond Times-Dispatch; The Tulsa World; The Birmingham News; The (Arlington Heights, Ill.) Daily Herald; The Pittsburgh Tribune Review; The Sarasota Herald-Tribune; The Daytona Beach News-Journal; The Lancaster New Era, The Intelligencer Journal and Sunday News; The Savannah Morning News; The (Stockton) Record; The Durham (N.C.) Herald-Sun; Copley Chicago Newspapers; The Lewiston (Maine) Sun-Journal; The York Dispatch; Harris Enterprises newspapers; The Rock Island (Ill.) Argus; The Frankfort (Ky.) State Journal; The Palm Beach Daily News; and The Star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Also at conferences of the Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Virginia newspaper associations, the Education Writers Association, the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, Inland Press Association, Journalism Education Association, Mid-America Press Association, and the National Scholastic Press Association.

And in broadcast newsrooms: NBC Nightly News, CNBC, MSNBC, ABC News "20/20," ABC Radio, and Telemundo.


Who? Journalism faculty, students and professionals.

What? Hands-on workshops using the Internet, spreadsheets and databases.

Where? In your classrooms and computer labs.

When? Two to four days or more.

Why? Jump-start your department's teaching of computer-assisted reporting.

How much? A lot less than the computers you already paid for.

About Power Reporting: Led by Bill Dedman, Pulitzer Prize recipient and teacher.

Contact: E-mail Bill@PowerReporting.com.

What others say: Read their comments.

Planning a seminar on your campus.

Logistics for the training.


Who?

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Journalism faculty, students and professionals from your community, regardless of computer skill. No one is left behind.


What?

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Power Reporting workshops are hands-on, practical training for print and broadcast journalists and educators, focusing on daily and deadline reporting, not long-term projects. Each session helps reporters and editors cover the news, and react to breaking news.

The skills are checking facts on deadline; backgrounding people, companies and ideas; developing story ideas; preparing for interviews; adding depth to beat coverage; choosing appropriate research tools; using information responsibly; and writing the complex story.

The tools are the World Wide Web, commercial databases, CD-ROMs, E-mail, mailing lists, alert services, home-grown spreadsheets, and public records.

The schedule is flexible, depending on your needs. It usually starts with:

  • A show-and-tell session (usually 90 minutes) for students and faculty. This session, for a group of any size, can be done more than once to reach everyone. The goal is to have an impact on the entire department, not just a couple of specialists. We see examples of the skills, and set a reasonable plan for helping each good journalist gain those skills. We deal with backgrounding, fact-checking, story ideas, beat coverage, verification, and using information responsibly.

  • Hands-on classes in smaller groups up to 25 people, limited to one or two people per available computer. The groups are usually divided by skill to be learned (web research, spreadsheets on a beat, etc.) These topics are listed below. These repeat as needed to reach everyone.

  • A faculty discussion on the ways that newsrooms are using computer-assisted reporting, and opportunities to integrate these skills with the journalism curriculum.

  • Individual sessions with those who have particular needs or story ideas.

Then choose from a menu of classes:

  • Web research for journalists: A hands-on tour of alert services, archives, calculators, online phone directories, e-mail directories, expert finders, company profiles, nonprofit info, maps, libraries, government info, and sites for specific beats.

  • Beyond Yahoo: A hands-on class in finding what you're looking for on the Web. Finding 487,000 Web pages is easy, but how do I find the one I need on deadline? Learn search strategies and techniques for narrowing your search when you want less, broadening it when you want more.

  • Evaluating the Web: Check the limits of the best sites for backgrounding people, companies and nonprofits. Documents vs. the Web.

  • Writing clearly by reporting clearly: How communication with editors, sources and readers decrease errors and add clarity; elements of story structure; adding context; writing concisely; fighting the enemies of bad writing (jargon, bureaucratese, formula).

  • Spreadsheets on the beat 1: For reporters and editors. A hands-on introduction to the spreadsheet for journalists. Compare your schools. Profile cases of domestic abuse. Rank coaches by salary. Track increases in bus fares. Learn to create a spreadsheet, import information from the Web, and sort information. Usually uses Microsoft Excel, either PC or Mac.

  • Spreadsheets on the beat 2: For reporters and editors. See patterns in data with the pivot table, which helps the reporter answer those "how many are there of each kind" questions. Use functions to clean data and answer more reporting questions. Save spreadsheets as pages for the Web. Usually uses Microsoft Excel, either PC or Mac.

  • Databases on the beat: For a small group of spreadsheet-comfortable staff ready to graduate to database software: building tables, simple queries, SQL syntax, cleaning data, intermediate queries, linking tables, making maps from data. Usually uses Microsoft Access on a PC, or Microsoft FoxPro on a PC or Mac.

  • Writing the complex story: How does the story change -- for reporter and editor -- when the source is "our research?" Explore approaches for writing with public records, data and original research. This session focuses on critical thinking, caution, telling what we don't know, and the pitfalls of "writing around it."

  • CAR skills for new media: You found what you want on the Web, but it's in the wrong order. Bring it into a spreadsheet, sort it, and send it back out to your newsroom Web site as a chart.


Where?

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Training works best in your building on your equipment, not somewhere far from home. We need computers (PCs or Macs) with Internet access and Microsoft Excel.


When?

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In two to four days, the entire department can see the overview and take at least two hands-on classes. A longer boot camp allows in-depth work. Call or E-mail to set a date.


Why?

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While everyone has seen the high-flying examples of "CAR projects," journalists need more practical models.

And they exist. Print and broadcast journalists are using these tools to break news every day.

Do editors and news directors want one investigative series a year -- or thousands of computer-assisted paragraphs and better beat reporting?


How Much?

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The fee is $1,000 per day plus travel costs.

You could send one faculty member to an out-of-town seminar, but in-house training will help the entire department.

Besides, you've already paid for the computers. Shouldn't you be getting more education out of them?


About Power Reporting

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Bill Dedman has led Power Reporting seminars on reporting and editing in dozens of newsrooms, and his Power Reporting Web site is used by many journalists for research.

In 1989, Bill received the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting for The Color of Money, a series of articles in Bill Kovach's Atlanta Journal-Constitution on racial discrimination by mortgage lenders.

Bill is an investigative reporter for msnbc.com, the news Web site. He is a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., where he started in journalism at age 16 as a copy boy. He was a newspaper reporter in Warrensburg, Mo., Chattanooga, Knoxville, and at The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. He also has written for The New York Times, and was managing editor of The Telegraph, the daily newspaper in Nashua, N.H. He has taught advanced reporting as an adjunct lecturer at Boston University, Northwestern University and the University of Maryland. He was the first director of computer-assisted reporting for The Associated Press, and served for six years on the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors.


Contact

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


What Others Say

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References are available from each of the seminars this year.

"The program was terrific. We're all planning to incorporate these techniques in our classes next year. Clear presentations and lots of practical applications." -- Michael Norman, chair, Journalism Department, University of Wisconsin at River Falls.

"This was one of the best seminars I have attended -- and one of the best our SPJ members have attended! Solid information in a concentrated form." -- Walter Brasch, professor of journalism, Bloomsburg (Pa.) University.

"If you want to get your staff or students excited about using the Internet, then don't miss an opportunity to bring in Bill Dedman. Bill knows his subject and can transfer helpful CAR information in a non-threatening maner to participants, no matter how experienced or inexperienced they might be." Byron Evers, director of mass communications, Mesa State University, Grand Junction, Colo.

"Power Reporting opened the world of computer-assisted reporting to novices and trained reporters and producers alike, and provided a versatile and sensible introduction to the vast resources available on the Web. Perhaps most importantly, people finished the seminar armed with knowledge they could use effectively and immediately." -- Matthew Butcher, special projects producer, MSNBC.com.

"Two thumbs up. Four and a half stars. In two days, 100 journalists trained and excited. Bravo." -- Hunter George, executive editor, The Birmingham News.

"This was the best seminar we've ever had here. The whole group got really fired up and is raring to go. Thanks again." -- Dick Estrin, assistant managing editor, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

"The skills I learned in your workshop improved my reporting tenfold. I use the ideas and tips nearly every day." -- Bill Heisel Jr., reporter, Yakima Herald-Republic.


Planning a seminar

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You'll find what fits you best. It's most common to do the show-and-tell once or twice to reach everyone. Then most of the staff attend hands-on Internet classes, and reporters and editors also attend hands-on spreadsheet classes. It's also valuable to find room for the writing session, the discussion among supervisors, and story sessions with reporters and editors.

Three sample schedules are listed here, from recent seminars, just to give you an idea. You should start with the number of people you want to have trained. Then figure out how many people can be in each session, depending on the number of computers available. That determines the number of times each class needs to be held, and therefore how deep we can go.

Example A. Two days

Day one

  • 8:00 - 9:30 Overview of news research (day shift)

  • 9:45 - 11:15 Internet 1: Web sites for journalists, group 1

  • 11:30 - 12:45 Internet 1: Web sites for journalists, group 2

  • 1:00 - 2:00 Lunch with faculty: integrating CAR

  • 2:15 - 3:30 Internet 2: Beyond Yahoo, group 1

  • 3:45 - 5:00 Internet 2: Beyond Yahoo, group 2

  • 5:00 - 6:30 Overview of news research (night shift)

Day two

  • 8:30 - 10:00 Spreadsheets on the beat 1, group 1

  • 10:15 - 11:45 Spreadsheets on the beat 1, group 2

  • 12:00 - 1:00 Lunch with students: Q&A, story ideas

  • 1:15 - 2:45 Spreadsheets on the beat 2, group 1

  • 3:00 - 4:30 Spreadsheets on the beat 2, group 2

  • 4:45 - 6:30 Coaching with reporters on story ideas


Example B. Three days

Day one

  • 8:30 - 10:00 Overview of news research, groups 1 and 2

  • 10:15 - 11:45 Overview of news research, groups 3 and 4

  • 11:45 - 12:45 Lunch with faculty: managing CAR

  • 1:00 - 2:30 Internet 1: Web sites for journalists, group 1

  • 2:45 - 4:15 Internet 1: Web sites for journalists, group 2

  • 4:30 - 6:00 Internet 1: Web sites for journalists, group 3

Day two

  • 8:00 - 9:30 Internet 1: Web sites for journalists, group 4

  • 10:00 - 11:15 Internet 2: Beyond Yahoo, Web searching, group 1

  • 11:30 - 12:45 Internet 2, Beyond Yahoo, Web searching, group 2

  • 12:45 - 1:45 Lunch with students: Q&A, story ideas

  • 2:00 - 3:15 Internet 2, Beyond Yahoo, Web searching, group 3

  • 3:30 - 4:45 Internet 2, Beyond Yahoo, Web searching, group 4

  • 5:00 - 6:30 Spreadsheets on the beat 1, groups 1 and 2

Day three

  • 8:30 - 10:00 Spreadsheets on the beat 1, groups 3 & 4

  • 10:15 - 11:45 Spreadsheets on the beat 2, groups 1 & 2

  • 12:15 - 1:15 Lunch with students: Q&A, story ideas

  • 1:30 - 3:00 Spreadsheets on the beat 2, groups 3 & 4

  • 3:15 - 4:30 Writing and editing the complex story

  • 4:45 - 6:30 Coaching with reporters on story ideas


Example C. Four days

Day one

  • 8:30 - 10:00 Overview of news research, groups 1 & 2

  • 10:15 - 11:45 Overview of news research, groups 3 & 4

  • 12:00 - 1:00 Lunch with faculty: managing CAR

  • 1:30 - 3:00 Internet 1: Web sites for journalists, group 1

  • 3:15 - 4:45 Internet 1: Web sites for journalists, group 2

  • 5:00 - 6:30 Internet 1: Web sites for journalists, group 3

Day two

  • 8:30 - 10:00 Internet 1: Web sites for journalists, group 4

  • 10:15 - 11:45 Internet 2: Web sites for journalists, group 4

  • 12:00 - 1:00 Lunch with students: Q&A, story ideas

  • 1:30 - 3:00 Internet 2: Web sites for journalists, group 1

  • 3:15 - 4:45 Internet 2: Web sites for journalists, group 2

  • 5:00 - 6:30 Internet 2: Web sites for journalists, group 3

Day three

  • 8:30 - 10:00 Spreadsheets on the beat 1, group 1

  • 10:15 - 11:45 Spreadsheets on the beat 1, group 2

  • 12:00 - 1:00 Lunch with students: Q&A, story ideas

  • 1:30 - 3:00 Spreadsheets on the beat 1, group 3

  • 3:15 - 4:45 Spreadsheets on the beat 1, group 4

  • 5:00 - 6:30 Coaching with reporters on story ideas

Day four

  • 8:30 - 10:00 Databases on the beat 1, group 1

  • 10:15 - 11:45 Databases on the beat 1, group 2

  • 12:00 - 1:00 Lunch with students: Q&A, story ideas

  • 1:30 - 3:00 Coaching with reporters on story ideas

  • 3:15 - 4:45 Coaching with reporters on story ideas

  • 5:00 - 6:30 Editors: ways to carry forward


Logistics

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Room Setup:

The show-and-tell can be in a training room or lecture hall or computer lab, whatever will hold the crowd.

For the show-and-tell, we need to use the Web and Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access, projecting onto a screen so everyone can see. We can accomplish this in one of two ways:

  • Your PC or Mac, already connected to the Web, running Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access (if you are using a PC) and a Web browser, either Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.

  • My laptop PC, connecting to the Web by telephone line, making a local call to my Internet provider. If we use the laptop, we'll need a plain old analog telephone line, a small table and a chair, with electric power nearby.

In either case, we need:

  • An LCD projector and screen. The LCD projectors are much preferred to the old-time LCD panels, which rest on a traditional overhead projector. The LCD projectors are much brighter. The better the projector, the better the session.

  • Ability to dim the lights.

  • A white board or blackboard to write on.

For the hands-on class, in the computer lab, we need no projection, only this:

  • A white board or blackboard to write on.

  • PCs or Macs for the students, each with Internet access, a Web browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape) and Microsoft Excel.

  • Any instructions for logging on to the network.

  • The ability to copy files to the hard drive.

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Information:

Before I arrive, I'll need to know what sort of computer equipment the staff has to work on, any changes afoot, special issues or controversies, etc.

Handouts:

The packet of handouts is approximately 70 double-sided pages. So you can save money, I'll send you the set in advance for photocopying. It comes as one packet, with blue sheets separating different items. You're free to leave it all as one packet, stapled, or you can separate the items, stapled.


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



COPYRIGHT 1997-2007 Bill Dedman