CAR course descriptions*

What is CAR?
Why is Computer Assisted Reporting a crucial part of reporting. Why
should journalists be interested in learning new skills? And what can
participants expect to learn during the course of the 2007 PRW CAR

An overview of the latest in investigative reporting.
While this will focus on U.S.-based work, the course will include
international examples and illustrate the state of investigative
reporting in other countries. Attendees will see that even in countries
where investigative reporting is difficult that good work still gets
done. This is part presentation and part discussion as we cover
specific story ideas that can be replicated and talk about what’s
possible to accomplish in the country we’re in. This includes both big
and small investigations from bigger and smaller news organizations.

Essential documents and databases for investigations.
Using documents for investigations has been the heart of such work in
the United States, Europe and elsewhere. This workshop covers types of
documents used and concentrates on how to get them into your hands even
when access is difficult. It also includes international databases that
are available on the Internet, are open for all and have data on the
host country, in this case, South Africa. This shows that documents can
be found, and through discussion, we share ways of finding access that
work locally. The course will also show searching techniques of how to
find some of this data on the Internet.

Web detective, hands on
The internet grows old. Websites and web services turn up and disappear
quickly, and the challenge today is often to find something (or the
remains of something) that disappeared a long time ago. Another
challenge is to use the findings as input in our continued hunt until
we have enough to see a full picture. This track may not be as sexy as
The Da Vinci Code, but you'll get a chance to get in contact with your
inner Robert Langdon.

Data mining, hands on
The web is flooding with data, but before we can calculate or analyse
anything we need to transfer the data to our computer. Here, you will
be introduces to different ways of doing that. We will extract data
from web pages and PDF files. We’ll work with Microsoft Excel to do
this, and we’ll see demos of the use of advanced web scraping.

Excel 1, hands on
Data are nearly everywhere these days – from government computers to
websites. This course introduces data analysis using a spreadsheet such
as Microsoft Excel. Spreadsheets will help reporters find investigative
story tips in those data. Participants will learn basic calculations,
rates, ratios and other analytic tools that generate story ideas.

Excel 2, hands on
The second spreadsheet course covers built-in analytical tools, such as
sorting, filtering, chart creation and others, that help reporters find
great story tips in databases — even on deadline.

Access 1: understanding databases, hands-on
Spreadsheets are a great way to get started with CAR. But what happens
when that dataset gets a little too big, or your analysis too complex?
That’s when it’s time to move to a database manager like Microsoft
Access. This class will introduce the basics of working with databases,
including basic queries, filtering and sorting.

Access 2: needle in the haystack; summarizing, hands-on
The second Access course continues by introducing more complex
analytical tools and techniques. The session will cover grouping,
counting, summing and other aggregate functions.

* No computer-assisted reporting skills are needed to begin these
courses. You should be comfortable with Windows, using a mouse, etc.
The Excel and Access courses are sequenced, however, so participants
should not take Excel 2 without completing Excel 1, nor Access 2
without completing Access 1.