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Citizen analysis shows Liberals fail to vote a third of the time

Ottawa Citizen reporter Glen McGregor once again showed why he’s one of the best CAR reporters in the country with his analysis of House of Commons votes by the Liberal opposition.

McGregor downloaded electronic copies of the house journals, which record such matters as votes. He then extracted the vote information into a database to discover that Liberal MPs, on average, had participated in just 64 per cent of votes.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion participated in just a third of votes, the Citizen reported.

The Liberals have been finding every way possible to avoid defeating the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, and thus forcing an election.

More than 60 per cent of Liberal votes backed the government. “They are giving Mr. Harper the capacity to take the country down the wrong path, not just on high-profile items like Afghanistan, but just in general, they are there to support the government,” the Citizen quoted NDP leader Jack Layton as saying.

Read the rest of the story here.

Continue Reading Citizen analysis shows Liberals fail to vote a third of the time

CBC loses key data access case

CBC has lost an important case about access to electronic data. The decision provides important backing for a position advanced by federal bureaucrats that data requested under the Access to Information Act should be withheld if there is a chance someone could be identified by linking anonymous details in the data to other information that is already public.
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Sun completes takeover of MySQL

Sun Microsystems has announced the completion of its $1 billion takeover of MySQL.

Continue Reading Sun completes takeover of MySQL

A tale of numbers from the New York Times

We’ve all heard the advice to take care with numbers, and not treat imprecise numbers as if they were precise. Here’s a cautionary tale from the New York Times, and public editor Clark Hoyt.

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Jan. 10 Air Canada incident – Links to useful resources

The heart-stopping ride for 83 passengers aboard Air Canada flight 190 from Victoria to Toronto Jan. 10 has raised questions about why the Airbus A319 pitched and yawed, throwing objects flying and injuring 10 people. The plane made an emergency landing in Calgary. There are many resources reporters can turn to to find background and information to advance their stories.
Continue Reading Jan. 10 Air Canada incident – Links to useful resources

New Executive Director at IRE/NICAR

IRE/NICAR has a new executive director, replacing Brant Houston who is now Knight Chair for Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. Mark Horvit, projects editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas is moving into the job, conditional on becoming a faculty member at the University of Missouri, which hosts IRE/NICAR.
Many Canadian journalists are members of IRE/NICAR, an organization that provides training, resources and support for journalists doing investigative and CAR work.
Read more in the IRE press release and in Editor and Publisher.
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Northwestern Readership Institute on putting data online

More and more news organizations are putting data online so readers can drill down to information relevant to them. I did it as part of a Hamilton Spectator series on restaurant safety in 2001, and it became the biggest traffic generator we had had to that point. Since then, organizations such as the CBC, Toronto Star and Edmonton Journal have followed suit.
This piece by Rich Gordon of Northwestern University for the Readership Institute explores the trend as it is unfolding in the U.S.
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Football players big, and getting bigger

Here’s a great example of the kind of enterprising story that can be brought to life with CAR, in any market. The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania gathered height and weight data on high school football players and found they just keep on growing horizontally. An important public health story resulted.
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Police data kept secret in Ontario

The Ontario Divisional Court has come down against media access to data held by the Toronto Police and the Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit. Both decisions are based on fine slicing and dicing of the wording of the acts, and have profound implications for access in the province.
On the bright side, an appeals court ruling on the public interest override in Ontario is some of the best news to come along in the FOI field in years.
Continue Reading Police data kept secret in Ontario

Toronto Star series wins online journalism award

Congratulations to Toronto Star reporter Jim Rankin, who along with a team at the paper, won the Online Journalism Award for service journalism. The award was presented at the Online News Association conference in Toronto in October. The paper won for Lost in Migration, a project about unscrupulous immigration consultants. As part of the investigation, reporters went undercover as prospective immigrants. Rankin has long been a friend of computer-assisted reporting, and was lead reporter on the Star’s landmark Race and Crime series in 2002.
Continue Reading Toronto Star series wins online journalism award

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