One of the key messages to take away from this class is to never stop learning. No matter where your career might take you, constantly challenge yourself to find new ways to do good journalism. Along those lines, here’s a link to a free, brand-new Data Journalism Handbook compiled by data journalists from the BBC, the Chicago Tribune, the Financial Times, ProPublica, the New York Times and The Guardian, which wrote this blog post about the collective effort.

One of the key messages to take away from this class is to never stop learning. No matter where your career might take you, constantly challenge yourself to find new ways to do good journalism. Along those lines, here’s a link to a free, brand-new Data Journalism Handbook compiled by data journalists from the BBC, the Chicago Tribune, the Financial Times, ProPublica, the New York Times and The Guardian, which wrote this blog post about the collective effort.

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SMU student-athlete Monika Korra, the subject of Brooks and Tricia’s excellent story, is featured in this documentary on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program.

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Legendary 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace died last week. During Thursday’s class, we’ll watch a CBS News tribute video remembering his career and  memories from his colleagues. Then, for good measure, we’ll hear some tips from Bob Woodward on investigative journalism.

Legendary 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace died last week. During Thursday’s class, we’ll watch a CBS News tribute video remembering his career and  memories from his colleagues. Then, for good measure, we’ll hear some tips from Bob Woodward on investigative journalism.

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"MAGIC WEIGHT-LOSS COOKIES!" That’s what the cover of Woman’s World, a national supermarket tabloid, called these cookies produced by a bakery in northwest Washington state. As the retail reporter for The Seattle Times, I thought this up-and-coming, mom-and-pop bakery was worth a feature story. The story would later become far more complex than I imagined, as we’ll discuss in class on Tuesday.

"MAGIC WEIGHT-LOSS COOKIES!" That’s what the cover of Woman’s World, a national supermarket tabloid, called these cookies produced by a bakery in northwest Washington state. As the retail reporter for The Seattle Times, I thought this up-and-coming, mom-and-pop bakery was worth a feature story. The story would later become far more complex than I imagined, as we’ll discuss in class on Tuesday.

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On Tuesday we’ll have the pleasure of visiting with Mark Smith (left), the award-winning producer of WFAA’s News 8 Investigates team. Here’s his bio from the Gerald Loeb Awards page:

Two series he produced each won broadcast journalism’s most prestigious honors: the Peabody Award and duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton. One of the series revealed that Texas regulators often ignored possible fraud and questionable practices by workers’ compensation insurance carriers. The other series detailed how paid confidential informants planted billiard chalk to contrive drug cases against dozens of innocent Mexican immigrants. The series led to the dismissal of drug charges against more than 70 defendants and prison terms for three informants and a police officer.
Prior to joining WFAA-TV, Mark was a print reporter for 15 years. He worked in the Austin and Washington, D.C., bureaus of The San Antonio Express-News. He also worked as an investigative reporter for The Houston Chronicle. Mark has undergraduate degrees in biology and political science from the University of Washington, and a Master’s in international affairs from Columbia University. He lives in Dallas with wife, Christy, and daughter Miranda.

On Tuesday we’ll have the pleasure of visiting with Mark Smith (left), the award-winning producer of WFAA’s News 8 Investigates team. Here’s his bio from the Gerald Loeb Awards page:

Two series he produced each won broadcast journalism’s most prestigious honors: the Peabody Award and duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton. One of the series revealed that Texas regulators often ignored possible fraud and questionable practices by workers’ compensation insurance carriers. The other series detailed how paid confidential informants planted billiard chalk to contrive drug cases against dozens of innocent Mexican immigrants. The series led to the dismissal of drug charges against more than 70 defendants and prison terms for three informants and a police officer.

Prior to joining WFAA-TV, Mark was a print reporter for 15 years. He worked in the Austin and Washington, D.C., bureaus of The San Antonio Express-News. He also worked as an investigative reporter for The Houston Chronicle. Mark has undergraduate degrees in biology and political science from the University of Washington, and a Master’s in international affairs from Columbia University. He lives in Dallas with wife, Christy, and daughter Miranda.

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Journalism in the Age of Data

That’s the name of the 11-minute video we’ll watch in class today, but it’s also our theme for the week. Knowing how to work your way around Google Fusion Tables and ManyEyes can be a distinguishing skill set as you launch your journalism career, no matter what platform you work for. Just ask 2011 SMU journalism grad Meredith Shamburger — or better yet, read this post about how she uses Google Fusion on the Job.

You can use Google Fusion to gather data and map out prisons in Tunisia, potholes in Bakersfield or Wal-Marts across the United States. Ushahidi, a nonprofit tech company, uses data to collect, visualize and map crowdsourced information from around the world. And of course, our friends at the Texas Tribune use data to inform their readers on everything from government salaries to school rankings.

We’re going to do two exercises today in class. The first exercise is to take five minutes to explore the interactive map from our recent Light of Day Project about campus crime. (Scroll down the page a little to find the map and MUTE your laptop to silence the obnoxious video ads.) What did the map help you find out about your neighborhood that you didn’t know before?

The second exercise is a group Coffee Price Map competition. Your group’s spreadsheet must be finalized on Google Docs by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, ready for us to visualize in class on Thursday. Prizes will be awarded for 1) the MOST individual data points collected; and 2) the BEST visualization, as judged by Batsell and Flournoy.

When your group gets together today, you’ll want to:

  1. Settle on your data elements (required: store name, store address, price of 16 oz. drip coffee … but you can add more if you want)
  2. Create a sample spreadsheet
  3. Consider your reporting methods. Shoe leather? Phone calls? Web surfing? Crowdsourcing? All of the above?
  4. If you want to crowdsource, consider a Google Form with a URL shortlink, distributing via social media. Thornburg’s Module 9 has a screencast which shows you how to do this, or I can help.
  5. Whatever your chosen method, your spreadsheet MUST BE FINALIZED BY 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, on our class Google Docs account.

UPDATE: Here are some of the better student efforts that came from this assignment. (Example 1) (Example 2) (crowdsourcing)

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Your Spring Break homework is to read Chapter 9: Collecting and Using Data, from Producing Online News: Digital Skills, Stronger Stories, by Ryan Thornburg. You’ll need to visit CQ Press and buy Module 9 for $4. When we return to class on Tuesday, March 20, we’ll discuss the following question: How can you apply some of these skills to enhance your second story?

Your Spring Break homework is to read Chapter 9: Collecting and Using Data, from Producing Online News: Digital Skills, Stronger Stories, by Ryan Thornburg. You’ll need to visit CQ Press and buy Module 9 for $4. When we return to class on Tuesday, March 20, we’ll discuss the following question: How can you apply some of these skills to enhance your second story?

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Class Exercise: Build a Storify story

As 21st-century reporters, a key part of your job will be to help readers make sense of the constant avalanche of information on the Web and social media. A great new tool for this purpose is Storify, the curation tool that allows you to construct an annotated story with text, multimedia and social media.

Students can use Storify to cover a breaking news story, like Meredith Shamburger did last year when protesters gathered in downtown Dallas to call for Egypt’s president to step down, or when two students led the way in reporting the Occupy Wall Street crackdown on protesters and journalists. You can use it for a class report, like Meghan Sikkel did for my Technology Reporting class last semester. You also can use Storify to tell a personal story, like a certain professor did recently to document his journey transporting two foster dogs from Texas to Arizona.

Your assignment today is to pick a story that matters to you — it can be your own story, or a story that’s been in the news recently — and Storify it. You must include at least five web links and/or social media posts, two photos, and one video, introducing each piece of content with context in your own words.

Post the link to your finished Storify as a comment to this post. Happy Storifying!

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(Read Emily’s full bio here)
Emily Ramshaw, editor of The Texas Tribune, will visit our class Thursday to talk about her approach to investigative reporting and why it is so important. Emily has broken dozens of investigative stories over the past decade, including the abuse of troubled children who were forced to fight at state-funded youth homes and shoddy medical care at the Texas Youth Commission. Read both of these stories and come to class prepared to ask Emily questions about these stories, about her career, and about investigative reporting in general.

(Read Emily’s full bio here)

Emily Ramshaw, editor of The Texas Tribune, will visit our class Thursday to talk about her approach to investigative reporting and why it is so important. Emily has broken dozens of investigative stories over the past decade, including the abuse of troubled children who were forced to fight at state-funded youth homes and shoddy medical care at the Texas Youth Commission. Read both of these stories and come to class prepared to ask Emily questions about these stories, about her career, and about investigative reporting in general.

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Sara Ganim, 24, talks with CNN’s Howard Kurtz about how she broke the Penn State scandal. What do Ganim’s responses (and our other readings for Thursday’s class) tell you about the value of shoe-leather beat reporting in an Internet age?

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