Welcome to the guide for
Computer Assisted Reporting, taught by Allison Barlow-Hess. We will
use this page to store some of the web sites and tips covered in
to article databases listed in this guide is limited to WSU students,
staff, and faculty. If you have questions, chat with us online.
Just click on the Online Assistance button at the top right of this
page. Or call the Reference Desk 626-6415 or toll free 1-877-306-3140
Reporters and Editors www.ire.org
A great web site with lots of links
Net Tour www.ire.org/training/nettour
the Places Journalists Should Go Guide by Al Tompkins,
a partner with Columbia Journalism Review
The following sites were
suggested by reporter Matt Flitton, (Ogden) Standard-Examiner
The Wayback Machine www.archive.org
Story ideas based on statistics
from over 100 federal agencies www.fedstats.gov
Association of Secretaries of State has links to business filings
for each state
Index to the Internet Selected web sites grouped by subject
area. A good starting place when you aren't sure where to begin.
Over 12 million citations from medical sources, dating to the
mid-1960s. From the National Library of Medicine. Some full text
and links to additional information.
A site dedicated to journalists
of the Week---
Use the 'Edit>Find
on this page' option to search for particular words or phrases in
a document.Saves time since you don't have to read the entire document.
Be sure to search from the beginning of the document.
Stewart Library guide
to searching the Internet Lots of tips, links to search
Engine Watch and Searchengineshowdown.com
are both good for info on how to search the web, comparison of search
of the Week---
Use Boolean logic
when searching databases. Boolean logic defines logical
relationships between terms in a search. The Boolean
search operators are and ,
or and not .
You can use these operators to create a very broad or very narrow
The principal Boolean
operators are: AND - OR - NOT
- Use AND to combine different concepts together.
This will reduce search results.
global warming AND extreme weather
In search engines use
the + symbol: +"global warming" +"extreme weather"
- Use OR to gather references that contain similar
terms or synonyms. This will increase search results.
extreme weather OR flood* OR tornado* OR drought
- Use NOT to exclude terms. Use this sparingly
as it may remove useful search results.
extreme weather NOT drought
In search engines use
the - symbol: "extreme weather"-drought
Some databases, especially online library catalogs, use
AND automatically. For example, if you enter global
warming , it will search for the words global AND warming,
but not necessarily for the words to be next to each other.
10, 2003 Is This Web
Site for Real?
Evaluating web sites can
be very challenging! It is often difficult to determine authenticity,
accuracy, etc. of information presented. This guide
suggests questions to ask as you evaluate a web site. Now try your
hand determining the authenticity of the following web sites.
This mechanical man was presented at the 1893 World's Fair and went
on to share the limelight with Theodore Roosevelt and Pancho Villa,
to name a few
Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency From 1868 to 1975, this
little-known agency was responsible
for controlling the nation's vampire and zombie populations
Reactions to Bearded Men Take a look at the bibliography
used for this well documented study
Drivers License Records Bureau Search an online
database of over 220 million U.S. driver's license photos and driver's
license information currently on file, absolutely FREE.
Website Content This web site is especially useful for
the links it offers
A great starting place to find info on Internet hoaxes, fake email
Great Site for Journalists
"Focuses on how the Internet, media convergence and new technologies
are changing journalism. The site offers tips, news and commentary
about online journalism, digital storytelling, converged news operations
and using the Internet as a reporting tool." Type in <hoax>
in the search box (without brackets). Take a look at their "Tips
and Tools" and the info on blogs.
Looking for some quick
facts? Look at the Ready
Reference and Quick Facts section of Librarian's Index to the
Internet and the guide compiled for WSU's
Media Writing class.
Other good sites include
by Dean Tudor and Christopher Callahan's A
Journalist's Guide to the Internet
Trying to verify someone's
death? Use the Social Security
Death Index on Rootsweb. Be aware that not everyone is listed
on the SSDI. Use
this guide for more info about the SSDI.
of the Week---
When searching for someone
on the Internet, try different forms of the name such as using
nicknames, middle initials, or using last name first. Typing in
"last name, first name" in quotation marks will bring
up different results than "first name last name"
Need government info?
Start with Stewart Library's guide
to government resources.
For sites with lots of
governmental statistics, start with census.gov
and bls.gov (Bureau of Labor
Statistics). The Statistical
Abstract of the United States, which has been printed annually
for decades, has several recent years online. There is a link to
it on the census.gov page.
Looking for Utah information?
Start at utah.gov.
It's the starting place for Utah demographics, statistics, links
to state agencies, governmental and legislative info and more.
The Almanac of American
Politics 2004 is available in print (Reference JK 1012.A44)
and online. Get the password from Reference staff. It's a good source
for governmental info on each state. For current issues and
info on each state, look at stateline.org
Start at the Stewart Library's
for access to dozens of databases which include fulltext articles
and citations in thousands of journals, magazines, and newspapers.
Use your student ID number for off-campus
---Tip of the Week---
Not sure how many pages
will print or only want to print a certain range of pages? Whether
you're in a database or on a web site, you should be able to do
a print preview. Go to File and click on Print Preview. You'll be
able to see how many pages, what's on each page, and print only
the pages you select. Some databases and web sites have "internal"
print instructions on their web pages. If so, follow their instructions
BEFORE you attempt to print or do a print preview. PDF Files have
their own tool bar. Use it to save or print PDF documents.
The Internet is full of
news sites. NewsCenter,
compiled by Gary Price, has a huge list of useful links. If you
are overwhelmed by NewsCenter, try Newslink.org
or Yahoo! News which also includes
photos, audio, etc. Use their Advanced Search option for more specific
searches. Also take a look at Google
In spite of Google's size,
it is indexing less than half of the web. Gary Price's Direct
Search searches what has been termed "the invisible Web"--those
web sites, data sources, etc. not commonly found using Google, etc.
of the Week---
Reached a "dead"
link? Try typing in the name of the web site (if you know
it) into Google, look at Google's cached site, or use just the first
part of the "bad" URL (the part to the left of the first
slash). For example, Gary Price's link to State Statistic Comparison
Tool is a dead link http://www.stateline.org/stateindex.cfm
But if you go to stateline.org,
you can figure out where the state comparison info is located.
Don't limit your Internet
searching to Google. Each search engine will return some different
results. Try those listed on Stewart Library's guide to search
engines. Stay on top of new developments in web searching with
Search Engine Watch
and Search Engine
At the local level, try
At the state level, try
For federal statistics
of the Week---
If you're searching lots
of web pages it can be easy to forget where you've been. Keep a
search log by copying and pasting URLs of the web sites you've visited
into a word processing table or Excel file as you go along.
Listservs and mailing
lists encourage the exchange of ideas and information with people
all around the world who share a common interest. You can find a
list for just about any topic. Many journalism sites include lists
for journalists. Investigative
Reporters and Editors has several lists you might consider joining.
To find more groups try Yahoo
Groups, Google Groups,
and Topica.com (formerly Lizst.com).
UK, a web page devoted to computer assisted reporting for journalists
in the United Kingdom, also includes links to lists devoted to journalism.
offers a weekly mailing list featuring web research tricks and tips
Did you get "flamed"
and not realize it? Need to know what an "emoticon" is?
Here's a glossary
of terms to help explain the vocabulary of lists.
of the Week---
Most email lists have
a set of rules you will want to follow if you post a message to
the list. Here are a few tips.
- Most lists have two addresses--one to use when posting messages
to the group and one to use when sending commands to the list
(subscribe, unsubscribe, etc.) DON'T get the two confused!
- Read any instructions, guidelines, etc. that you received from
the list moderator when you first subscribe. File those so you
can refer to them in the future if you have a question. (Make
yourself an email file to store those instructions in one place)
- Some lists give you an option of joining in "list mode"
(each post is a separate message) or "digest mode" (one
long message composed of all posts). If you choose digest mode,
be sure your email program will support that--some programs can't
handle the long messages you might get in digest mode
- Read carefully what you receive to be sure you are not misunderstanding
- Read carefully what you send to be sure your message won't be
- Be courteous when responding
- Remember that readers won't have the "verbal clues"
associated with face-to-face communication. If you are using humor
or sarcasm, be sure it is clearly understood as such
- Don't send long messages (over 1000 lines). Many email programs
won't accept such long messages
- Don't send attachments unless you know the list will accept
them. Attachments can be problematic because of the threat of
viruses and the fact that some email programs don't support attachments
- Keep your message concise and geared to the group. Don't go
- Keep the text simple--few symbols, DON'T WRITE IN ALL CAPITALS
(this is called shouting), etc.
- Limit each message to one subject and use a good descriptive
subject line. Many people will read only the subject line before
deleting the message or deciding to read it.
- If you are new to a list, "lurk" for a bit to get
a feel for the list. If it offers archived messages, look at those
to see if your question has already been answered in previous
Oct. 22, 2003
With the Internet constantly
growing and changing, how can you quickly stay on top of current
events, new stories, etc? Each of you will have your own favorite
"current awareness" or news sites, but here are several
especially good ones to consider.
Access to the entire site requires a $48/year subscription but
still lots of good links available for free
Cites Sign up for email notifications about new trends
in information technology
- Gary Price's Resourceshelf
One of my favorite sites. When it comes to finding great web sites
and noting new trends relevant for information professionals,
let Gary do it! The site is updated daily and you can subscribe
to a weekly update/reminder
- Refdesk.com Another
great megasite with lots of links to current news and resources
- Many journalism sites also include links to news
is a fantastic database for "news junkies." It's currently
available to Utah residents through their public libraries, via
Pioneer, Utah's Online Library. Davis and Weber County residents
need a library card from their local public library. Access it from
pioneer.utah.gov or your
public library's home page. Look at the Factiva news pages for a
fast, easy way to see what's going on in the world.
of the Week---
Feeling overwhelmed? Tired?
Bored by too much "brain stuff?" This week's tip of the
week is to figure out what helps you de-stress and then get out
there and do it! Whether it's exercising, a fun hobby, volunteering,
spending time with friends, meditating, reading something just for
the fun of it--or any other activity that helps you unwind. Take
some time each day to unwind. Don't let yourself get so
overwhelmed that you lose the joy of learning!
It's almost November and
that means Elections! Try these sites for information on the candidates
Click on "2003 Election Info" for links to candidates'
web pages, etc.
Local chapter of the League of Women Voters
Web site for the Utah state legislature. Click on "Legislators"
and search by year to find information on current legislators. You
can also find links to Campaign Finance Reports here.
League of Women Voters of Utah
Features the Political Oddsmaker with info on the odds
for both State and National elections
Center for Responsive Politics, billed as "Your guide to the
money in U.S. elections"
A non-partisan site
Find out what the Gallup polls say about the President's approval
rating and more
Lots of good non-partisan info here. Click on "My State"
at top for good links to state info as well
of the Week---
Feeling frustrated that
you aren't using a search engine effectively? Remember my motto:
"When in doubt, read the instructions."
Most search engines offer search tips and/or advanced searching.
Take the time to read the instructions--understanding how the search
engine "operates" can save you time and make your searches
We've covered a lot so
far this term. Now might be a good time to review. Web sites listed
at the top of this guide are good starting places, both for finding
good sites specific to journalists and for finding web sites with
links to information sources.
Remember that generally
search engines and databases require different search strategies.
Search engines may allow the use of symbols such as + (to include
a term), - (to exclude a term), " " to enclose a phrase,
etc. Databases usually require using Boolean logic (and, or, not)
between search terms and do not use symbols.
Check with staff at your
local public library, academic library, and your place of employment
to find out what databases you may access. Sometimes using a database
will be your most effective search, sometimes the web will be most
effective. Practice and experience will help you become a more proficient
No one can read every
book, shop in every store, or use every web site. You have some
favorite stores where you shop--think of the web in the same way.
Find a few favorite search engines and web sites (like those at
the top of the guide) and get familiar with them. Use them as starting
idea for the week--Agriculture in Utah
What is the status of
agriculture in Utah? You'll find a lot of information at this site
by Utah Agricultural Statistics
Service. Click on "Publications" to find the Annual
Bulletin and other reports.
Information on drought
conditions can be found at this site by the National
Climatic Data Center
Need a story idea? Here
are some web sites in the field of Science which may give you ideas.
Stewart Library faculty
have created a page with links to a selection of science
can help you stay abreast of research advances in science, medicine,
health, and technology.
bills itself as a catalog of government science and technology Web
For environmental info,
try The National Library
for the Environment and EarthTrends
To keep current with genetics
and the Human Genome Project, try the Genetics
For health and medical
news, try HealthWeb and
Healthfinder. And don't
forget the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) The CDC also maintains the National
Center for health Statistics.
Two good sites for nutrition
information are Harvard's Nutrition
Source and Nutrition.gov
of the Week---
If you haven't looked
at Google's help
screen recently, take a look. Besides the calculator, you can
also use the tilde (~) to search for synonyms
By now you know that you
can find thousands of magazines, newspapers, and journals indexed
in various databases. But more and more books and other library
materials, such as maps, pamphlets, and photograph collections,
are being digitized and shared on the web. As a reporter you might
use these materials for background on a story or to get ideas for
a story. Here are a just a few of the best digitization projects.
----Tip of the Week---
The number of digitized
images will continue to grow. When searching for an interesting
collection, try the search terms "digital library," "digitization
project," "digitization program," or "virtual
library." Academic libraries and the libraries of state historical
societies are also likely places to find collections.
We're at the end of the
semester! Hope you've discovered lots of great web sites, search
techniques, email lists, etc. to help you throughout your career.
Here are several additional web sites to investigate.
Another source for search engine news
Kit for the Expert Web Searcher Compiled by members
of the Library & Information Technology Association, a division
of the American Library Association. Links to some good search
- Virtual Private
Library Another collection of sites compiled by Marcus
Zillman. Take a look at the Deep
Web resources and his pdf document "Using the Internet
as a Dynamic Resource Tool for Knowledge Discovery." Although
he's trying to sell stuff, he's still got a lot of useful info.
---Tip of the Week---
The amount of information
available on the web will continue to grow, making it more difficult
to quickly find a certain fact you might need for a story. Consider
- When in doubt, read the directions! Whether it's the introductory
pages of a book or the help screen for a search engine, it pays
to take a few minutes to find out how the book or web site "operates"
- Visualize the ideal resource you need--what would it cover,
how would it be arranged? By focusing on exactly what you want
to find, you can often come up with a search strategy or search
- Network! Whether it's talking to co-workers, friends, teachers,
librarians, etc., people can often be a your best resource!
- Get familiar with library terminology to more quickly focus
your search. Here are a few examples
- biography to find info on a person's life
- bibliography to find a list of books or
- chronology or timeline to put events into
- thesaurus to find alternate terms. A database
with subject headings (like Academic Search Premier) works
like a thesaurus to find related terms
- Don't be afraid to try different search terms. If the words
you're using aren't finding what you need, think of alternate
terms, narrower or broader terms, etc.
- Develop a friendship with a librarian! If you work in a place
with a corporate library, get to know the librarian.
- And don't be afraid to ask questions!
Hope this has been fun
and worthwhile for each of you!