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November 21, 2000

November 21, 2000 | News Releases on

Media Center Announces Courses in Computer-Assisted Reporting

WASHINGTON, NOV. 21, 2000-The Heritage Foundation's Center for Media and Public Policy will conduct a series of weekend courses next year for journalists seeking to acquire or upgrade Computer-Assisted Research and Reporting (CARR) skills.

The Database 101 "boot camp" will be offered on a quarterly basis, on the weekends of Feb. 10-11, June 23-24, Sept. 8-9 and Dec. 1-2. Course sessions will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

"These courses combine a solid grounding in basic statistics for the newsroom with practical training in the use of Microsoft Excel and other database analysis software programs," said Mark Tapscott, manager of media programs. "The curriculum is designed for journalists who lack training or confidence in working with statistics."

Each course will be held in the Heritage Foundation's computer training center and will be limited to eight students. Instructors include William Beach, director of Heritage's Center for Data Analysis, Ralph Rector, CDA's deputy director, and Kirk Johnson, a CDA data analyst, as well as Dexter Ingram, the Media Center's database editor. All textbooks and other course materials are provided at no cost, as are the breakfast and luncheon meals.

The course was offered twice this year, drawing reporters and researchers from ABC News, The Detroit Free Press, Education Week, The Journal Newspapers, Inc., and Knight-Ridder Newspapers.

Tapscott, former managing editor of the Montgomery (MD) Journal, said the 2001 courses will be held on weekends because it is frequently "difficult, if not impossible" for editors and reporters to leave their newsrooms for training during the week.

A limited number of fellowships to help cover airfare and lodging costs are available for journalists working outside the nation's capital.

The Database 101 course is part of the Media Center's CARR program, which was initiated in October 1999 by Tapscott, a former editor and reporter with The Journal Newspapers, The Washington Times and Defense Electronics magazine.

The CARR program links journalists with CDA's staff of statistical and database experts to conduct deadline-sensitive, methodologically transparent, peer-reviewed analyses using publicly available and other databases and econometric models. These resources can be used for everything from daily news stories and features to major investigative series requiring months of research and interviewing.

In its first year, the CARR program provided assistance on stories and projects to Cox Newspapers, The Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle, Investor's Business Daily, The Los Angeles Times, Scripps Howard News Service, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

The CARR program also provides selected news organizations with customized, controlled-access web pages that enable their reporters and editors to use CDA's databases and models for independent research and analysis.

Among CDA's more than 40 such databases are the federal government's Big Three, the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey and the IRS Statistics of Income File. The CDA is also certified by the U.S. Department of Education for access to primary data from the National Assessment of Education Progress.

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