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Spreadsheet training sparks stories

Paul Sloth, a reporter with The Journal Times in Racine, Wis., proved that a little hands-on CAR training can go a long way. Less than a month after attending the optional CAR training at a Better Watchdog Workshop in Madison, he's already completed two spreadsheet-based stories. After only a few hours of training in Excel, Sloth had learned enough to find that a Racine school superintendent is "the second highest paid public school official in the state."

In addition, Sloth analyzed school enrollment numbers to find increased enrollment of Hispanic students in small school districts. He then followed up the data work with reporting on the district's efforts to meet the needs of those students. "They might not have been the most sophisticated stories in the world, but it was a chance to quickly start putting some of those skills to use. Now I'm looking at numbers in a whole new light. Numbers open up a world of possibilities in terms of story ideas," he said.

Don't forget that you can attend hands-on CAR training at the annual IRE Conference in Baltimore next week. — Jaimi Dowdell, IRE training director

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