March 8, 2018 by Nick Swyter
Data analysis map, photo courtesy of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE-NICAR).
The National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting’s (NICAR) annual conference devoted to data journalism is running this week from March 8 to 11 in Chicago.
July 25, 2014 by Nick Swyter
I enrolled at the University of Miami’s School of Communication to pursue my career goal: become a television news anchor. In August, I will begin my senior year and assume the role of station manager of the campus television station.
Do I feel like I am on track for my career goal? Yes.
Do I feel like I can get a news job after college? Yes.
Has my work as a student journalist made a difference to anybody? Probably not.
Why not? Too many journalism schools still treat a diploma as if it is the ticket to the “real world.” So much of the work that we, student journalists, produce exists to fill out a resume rather than inform communities. Most professors agree that up-to-date hands-on experience is best, but most schools haven’t blended that experience into their curriculum.
October 3, 2014 by Nick Swyter
Journalism can lead us astray, argues Harvard professor Tom Patterson in his book, “Informing the News.” He cites a University of Maryland study on what Americans knew about 11 issues, from health care reform to climate change. For some news consumers, “higher levels of exposure increased misinformation.” On eight of the 11 issues in the study, more than 40 percent of the consumers were misinformed. On six issues, regular news consumers knew only what everyone else knew. On health care, news consumers knew less than what others knew.
Patterson makes a strong case that modern journalism often fails to communicate complexity. The book, an offshoot of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative for the Future of Journalism Education, examines journalism that fails to provide meaningful context, sometimes by giving equal weight to fact and opinion, other times by substituting infotainment for real news, still other times by allowing anecdote to trump trend.
He’s neck-deep in the problems of modern journalism, with chapters titled “The Information Problem,” “The Source Problem,” “The Knowledge Problem,” “The Education Problem,” “The Audience Problem” and “The Democracy Problem.” The problems add up to stories throughout history that have been horribly wrong, from the start of the Spanish-American War (Spain probably didn’t sink the U.S.S. Maine) to escalating crime in the early ’90s (it didn’t happen), from the prevalence of voter fraud (it isn’t a problem) to those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (they did not exist).