Advanced Coursework. Like ethics and law and data and stuff.

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Advanced Google Chart Tools

Did you have fun with the updated Google Chart Tools? Well, that’s only the tip of the iceberg of fun and possibility. Google has created a chart gallery with different kinds of prototypes for you to play with.

I will explain to you how we could use some of those prototypes for better data storytelling. You can also consider this as your first step into the information design world, thinking about grouping and presenting information. Continue reading

Getting That Data Out of That Ugly PDF

A real-life pdf received by Amanda Loder of StateImpact New Hampshire. She had about 15 pages like this that she wanted to put into a sortable table. And she did it!

Has some government agency sent you a completely messy, crookedly scanned copy of an Excel print-out? Are they claiming that it would be impossible for them to share with you the original spreadsheet?

Don’t despair! There is still hope for you.

There is a very special trick called “optical character recognition” (or, “OCR” if you’re cool) that can help you covert those fuzzy tables into actual, usable Excel spreadsheets. While OCR software can be costly,  we have found at least one website that can help you out for much less scratch: Online OCR. The only caveat is that they only let you do about five pages for free. After that, you have to sign up and get a password and pay something like 7 cents a sheet. Annoying, but still better than manual data entry.

But be warnedYou’ll want to go through and make sure that your numbers still add up to whatever they add up to in your original pdfs. Depending on the quality of the scan, a 7 might look like a 1, a 3 like an 8… You get the idea. Make sure you dutifully clean and check the work. And check it again.

And then pat yourself on the back for overcoming yet another obstacle in your quest for government transparency. Well done, you!

Social Media Ethics in Reporting

While the Internet and social media can be invaluable resources in both collecting and distributing information, they also present significant challenges for reporters.

Our advice? Tread carefully and exercise the same healthy skepticism and integrity that you would in any other arena.

Even in your so-called “personal” accounts, stay mindful of your role as a reporter and be wary of any perception of bias that your status updates, Tweets and retweets might suggest. Continue reading

Social Media: Beyond Self-Promotion

In this webinar, we share ways to use social media (including Twitter, Facebook and Reddit) to engage with your core communities. We break down simple ways you can tweak the work you are already doing to maximize your social media presence. And we’ll share how other reporters—including your StateImpact brethren—are using social media to inform stories and promote their work.

StateImpact Webinar: Social Media For Reporters from StateImpact on Vimeo.

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Using LinkedIn For Backgrounding People and Companies

UPDATE: Next “LinkedIn for Journalists” training will be held on January 10. Read below for details….

I suppose that a lot of you use LinkedIn as a professional social media platform. Well, did you know that it can also be a good reporting tool? As a journalist, you can use LinkedIn to conduct background research,  identify potential sources and reach out to your core communities.

I took a LinkedIn training, and here are some highlights on how you can use LinkedIn for reporting.

Before we start, let’s get familiar with the navigation bar because a lot of searches will start from there.

1. Finding Sources

  • Advanced People search: Click on “Advanced” on the right side of the search bar, and you can search people by company, including past and current employees.
  • Company search: Search companies by clicking on the right third drop-down menu on the navigation bar, and you will be able to see how many people among your first and second-degree connections work at a certain company. Continue reading

Fun with Google Analytics

If you’re just get­ting started using Google Analytics, there are several online tools and how-tos to help you get started. One of our favorites is Media Bistro‘s primer on some of the key elements that journalists find helpful (lots of them are designed for business folk).

Of course, Google has an exhaustive set of tuto­ri­als and how-tos on their site.

In this post, I am going to share with, step-by-step, how to find some of the team’s favorite analytics.  Continue reading

Promoting StateImpact on the air

Stations in StateImpact states are using different approaches to promoting the project on the air.

Some have had their reporters cut simple promos. Others have asked Ken Rudin to explain the project. A few have produced more elaborate pieces, with compelling interview cuts from StateImpact stories.

Here are some samples:

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