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Office 2010 Beta imminent

Love it or hate it, Microsoft Office is the king of the mountain when it comes to desktop spreadsheet and database software, and you’ll soon be able to have a close up look.
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Winnipeg Free Press probes dirty restaurants

Check out this story from the Winnipeg Free Press on dirty restaurants.
It’s a great example of how far we have come in doing this kind of
probing journalism.

The
earliest reporters doing the restaurant story, and I was one of
them, had to fight long battles with government officials just
to get the data. Jen Skerritt got it in a few weeks just by asking.

Skerritt
came to the CAJ conference in Vancouver in May and took the day of CAR
training I did with David McKie of CBC. She was so pumped when
she left that she headed right back to Winnipeg and asked the city and
province for restaurant inspection data…
Continue Reading Winnipeg Free Press probes dirty restaurants

CAR story wins Michener Award

Computer-Assisted Reporting was a big part of this year’s winning Michener Award entry. The CBC and the Canadian Press teamed up to analyze Taser use by police officers across Canada, building a unique database from use-of-force reports obtained from police forces across the country. Read the press release from Government House here.
The reporters analyzed the data and found that between 2002 and 2008, RCMP members fired their tasers more than 3,200 times and administered multiple shocks in more than 40 per cent of those cases. The CBC and Radio Canada also conducted tests that showed older models sometimes produce a stronger zap than the maker advertised.
Congratulations to the whole CBC/Radio Canada/Canadian Press team.

Continue Reading CAR story wins Michener Award

Still time to sign up for the King’s Summer School in Computer-Assisted Reporting

Reporters from across Canada are headed to Halifax for the second annual University of King’s College Summer School in Computer-Assisted Reporting.
The school is sponsored by the Canadian Newspaper Association and is the only “boot camp” style CAR training available in Canada. CAR skills give you a leg up in today’s brutal journalism job market by helping you get big stories everyone else will miss. To sign up for the CAR school contact Kelly Goldenberg at 902-422-1271. You can pay using VISA, Mastercard or Amex.
Continue Reading Still time to sign up for the King’s Summer School in Computer-Assisted Reporting

Some data resources for swine flu coverage

There are some excellent statistical resources available to those working on swine flu stories…
Continue Reading Some data resources for swine flu coverage

The struggle for electronic records

Fred Vallance-JonesJournalists have been asking for electronic records from Canadian governments for at least 15 years. There have been a few encouraging developments, writes Fred Vallance-Jones, but a recent FOI audit showed we have a long way to go.
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Star series shines light on government travel spending

Web scraping is a way to download large amounts of information from government websites for later analysis in a database. It is making possible stories that would be impossible for the causal hunt and click web surfer.
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Getting great map data for free

It used to be that you had to pay big dollars for GIS data. That’s changing quickly as more and more government agencies make their maps available at no charge.

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Nova Scotia posts restaurant inspections online

Nova Scotia is now posting the results of restaurant health inspections online.
The new website allows anyone to search for inspections that have been done since July 10. Users can search by establishment name or address, by town or by the date of the inspection. Results include any violations found and the action taken.It is also possible to generate a list of restaurants that have been closed or that have received warnings.
While it is not possible to do a bulk download into a spreadsheet or database, there is nothing to prevent a journalist from doing multiple searches and assembling the information into a database.
Unlike some jurisdictions that have implemented online disclosure systems, Nova Scotia chose not to introduce a colour-coding or grading system to explicitly identify restaurants with critical problems.

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Election night as teaching opportunity

Election nights are great for journalism, but they turn out to be great for journalism instructors as well. Second-year students at the University of King’s College covered the October 14, 2008 election live as a class project. CAR contributing editor Fred Vallance-Jones explains how he put the coverage together. See the class website site here and click below to read more.
Continue Reading Election night as teaching opportunity

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