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When nerds and words collide

In 1999, Nora Paul organized a gathering at The Poynter Institute of a group of journalists who were on the cutting edge of computer-assisted reporting at the time.

The result was a short book titled "When Nerds and Words Collide," featuring chapters from many leaders in data-driven journalism. It also details the beginning of what is now the National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting.

1989 was a watershed moment for CAR, Paul writes, but a decade later progress on some fronts had stalled. The issues raised by these journalists nearly 15 years ago are many of the same ones facing journalists today: 

  • Defining what we do in terms of objectives instead of tools, clarifying the vision and figuring out how to brand and sell it
  • Promoting social science principles into daily practice of journalism
  • Incorporating CAR into all beats
  • Getting buy-in from top editors and overcoming the cultural lag in the newsroom
  • Creating a structure to collect/analyze data and share it with reporters, making CAR tools easier to use for reporters
  • Rethinking education: What should we expect from new journalists?

Download the pdf from the IRE store.

Posted with permission from Nora Paul and The Poynter Institute.

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