David Herzog, associate professor
E-Mail: herzogd [at] missouri [dot] edu
Office: 141 Neff Annex (Investigative Reporters & Editors offices)
Office hours: 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays
10 a.m. – noon Thursdays
Class blog RSS: http://dherzog.com/category/car-class/feed
Class bookmarks: http://delicious.com/dherzog/CARs13
Computer-assisted reporting (CAR) refers to the analysis of public records that are stored electronically instead of on paper.
This is largely a skills course with a heavy hands-on component. By successfully completing this course, you will be able to identify, obtain, evaluate, clean and analyze data. You will be expected to think like a journalist by evaluating data critically and applying what you learn to news stories, information graphics or web applications.
You’ll learn how to use software tools, such as spreadsheets, database managers, text editors and data-cleaning programs.
- The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records, by David Cuillier and Charles N. Davis. Available at the University Bookstore
- Numbers in the Newsroom, by Sarah Cohen. Available at the University Bookstore and Investigative Reporters & Editors office, 141 Neff Annex
- MySQL Crash Course, by Ben Forta. Available at the University Bookstore.
- Navicat Essentials for MySQL (wait until instructed to purchase online)
- 4 GB (minimum storage capacity) USB flash drive
Available at TigerTech and electronics or discount stores
- Participation and effort (25 percent)I expect everyone will participate in class by taking part in discussions, following along during lectures and asking questions. I’ve found that the best classes are the ones where students are engaged in their learning. See below for my attendance policy.Participation also means making sure you’re on top of the reading assignments and putting your best effort into class overall. In addition, I expect that everyone will read a daily newspaper or watch television news. The New York Times and USA Today regularly use database analysis for news reporting and interactive web applications, so those are two excellent choices. Also, you should follow the CAR stories on IRE’s ExtraExtra! Blog.
- Homework assignments (25 percent)You will have a number of homework assignments during the semester. In many of these assignments you will be expected to download data from Blackboard and analyze it using a question-and-answer sheet as your guide. I will not accept late assignments unless you’ve made arrangements with me in advance. You will receive a 0 for unexcused late work.
- Data negotiation (25 percent)Identify a database held by a government agency that you would like to have and try to get it. Since you are negotiating for public data as a journalist, it is not acceptable to promise that you will not use the records. Downloading data from the Internet does not fulfill the requirements of this exercise. Neither does getting records on paper or as PDFs. On the day this exercise is due or later, you will give a 5-min. lightning talk detailing your experience and hand in a written report. Details will be provided separately.
- Group final project (25 percent) Analyze a database and write a 10-page minimum story proposal. The goal of this project is to create a body of work that can be passed along to student journalists at The Missourian, KBIA or KOMU for further reporting and, eventually, publication or broadcast. Details will be provided separately.
Graduate student component
Graduate students will create a practice homework assignment with 10 questions that other students in the class could use to polish their database skills.
Grading scale : Graduates and undergraduates
· 98-100 percent of possible points earned………………………A+
· 94-97 percent of possible points earned………………………..A
· 90-93 percent of possible points earned………………………..A-
· 88-89 percent of possible points earned………………………..B+
· 84-87 percent of possible points earned………………………..B
· 80-83 percent of possible points earned………………………..B-
· 78-79 percent of possible points earned………………………..C+
· 74-77 percent of possible points earned………………………..C
· 70-73 percent of possible points earned………………………..C-
· 68-69 percent of possible points earned………………………..D+
· 64-67 percent of possible points earned………………………..D
· 63-60 percent of possible points earned………………………..D-
· 59 percent or less of possible points earned……………………F
Class work will be evaluated on several levels, including:
- Technical skill – the ability to use the software to construct correct formulas, queries, etc. If a result is recorded on an answer sheet but the work is not preserved in the appropriate spreadsheet or database, points will be deducted. Incorrect formulas and/or queries will result in lost points even if a correct answer coincidentally results despite a technical error.
- Reporting skill – the ability to accurately record findings; in other words, if your spreadsheet is correct, but your answer sheet is wrong, points will be deducted. If an answer is not recorded at all but it exists in the spreadsheet or database, points will be deducted. When you’re reporting on your findings, please stick to what you know. Do no invent other “facts” for your story.
- Communication skill – the ability to verbalize findings, usually in the form of writing three paragraphs at the conclusion of an assignment based on the data reporting. These paragraphs are to be written as newspaper or broadcast stories and must employ journalistic standards.
There is no final exam.
My attendance policy
Students are expected to attend all class sessions. Again, this is a largely a skills course and your success will depend upon the time you spend in front of the computer, working on your exercises. Also, when you miss key classes, you will fall behind. I realize that you will sometimes miss class, you get three (3) unexcused absences.
If you have four (4) unexcused absences, your final grade will drop one full letter grade.
If you have six (6) unexcused absences you will either be dropped from the class or receive an F for your final grade.
Religious holidays, illness and personal/family emergencies all are excused absences, though I may ask for documentation.
Technology, managing files and submitting assignments
This class exposes you to an array of computer and software technologies. As in the real world, you will have to navigate through this to succeed and thrive.
We will use OpenOffice Calc spreadsheet and MySQL database manager, both of which are installed on the PCs in Gannett 182 only. These programs are not installed in the labs across campus. You will need to install these programs on your laptops, so you can work on your assignments outside of class. Both programs are available for download at no cost for Mac, PC and Linux operating systems.
A note for Honors College students:
If you wish to earn Honors College credit for this class, you may to enter into a Learning-By-Contract agreement with the instructor and complete an additional project that deepens your knowledge of CAR.
About the instructor
David Herzog is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, where he also serves as academic adviser to the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR). He was a 2010-2011 fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Before arriving at Mizzou in January 2002, Herzog was an investigative reporter for the Providence Journal, where he specialized in computer-assisted reporting. Prior to that, he directed computer-assisted reporting at The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. He has a bachelor’s degree in radio-television-film from Temple University.
Veteran investigative reporter and data journalist. Advocate for open government.
- @brentajones Knowing ArcGIS would help you get more out of the U.C. Only need experience working with structured data for map camp. about 3 hours ago in reply to brentajones
- Journalists can apply for fellowships to attend @Esri User Conf., @IRE_NICAR map camp. http://t.co/FKxN28aoRD about 3 hours ago
- Woah RT @67thElement: @datachick: Quandl Package – 5,000,000 free datasets at the tip of your fingers! http://t.co/aZx68ec7RN about 1 week ago
- RT @ddjournalism: #NICAR13: Here are some videos & tutorials from European equivalent of NICAR, #ddjschool at #ijf13: http://t.co/2r6Hv… about 1 week ago