Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Nexis at your fingertips:
Great news for freelancers and other journalists or researchers who don't have access to a LexisNexis subscription: LexisNexis a la carte lets you search and choose a few articles without huge costs. There are simple searches (or advanced searches) available in several areas (except public records); choose the stories or records you want and pay $3 each.
(Via Jonathan Dube.)

Researcher credits:
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's series on FEMA's hurricane payouts in Florida (including lots of money to South Florida where there was little effect from this year's hurricanes) gives credit to staff researcher Barbara Hijek and research staff CAR specialist John Maines.
Some fascinating details in these stories, like this in a story by Megan O'Matz and Sally Kestin:
    "HIALEAH - At BrandsMart USA, a low-end model Magic Chef microwave costs $28.88.
    Hurricane victims could buy six of them with the $181.75 the federal government pays to replace a microwave damaged by a storm.
    That's also enough purchasing power to take home two sleek, black and steel microwave-toaster combos made by Magic Chef and sold at The Home Depot for $79.99 each."

(Via The Scoop.)

Another former colleague lost:
Washington Post reporter Leroy Aarons went on to found the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

Monday, November 29, 2004

As reported a few weeks back, the folks that did Wikipedia are working on a News wiki. It's ready now, in demo form: Wikinews. This will be interesting to watch.
And if you want to get involved, this is your chance to write news stories that thousands will see!
(Via Steve Rubel.)

Wish I were there:
The Information Today team is again Blogging the London Online Information 2004 show. Can't be there? At least enjoy the photos and links.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Open records:
The Tennessee newspapers are reporting the results of the statewide open records audit which was held over the summer. They found that many sheriffs won't release records, among other things. Most of the major TN papers' sites require subscription, but here are a couple of the stories at the Jackson Sun; and here. How the survey was done. On the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government in the Tennesseean.

That cheese sandwich:
Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede has the Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich that was auctioned on E-Bay and is delivering it to the purchaser in Las Vegas. He's Blogging the Cheese. He explained why he's doing this on Thursday.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Weekend update: Other things found this week:
Continuing to redo the Web site and the Links list, although I haven't gotten to the reference links yet.

I've added links below to several new blogs that I've also put on the Blog links on the Website. Some of these I'd already linked on this blog, but since this was a short week with a short list.....

More links....

  • The Vietnam Files, a database of marine unit histories, requires subscription.
  • Hate Crime statistics, 2003 from FBI.
  • AIDS Epidemic Update, 2004 from UNAIDS.
  • Foreign-born population, 2000-2004: Economy slowed, immigration didn't. Report from Center for Immigration Studies.
    Governments, Politics:
  • Campaign Disclosure Law Database at UCLA Law. Has laws by state.
  • Vanity Fair: now, for the first, time, some of the magazine is online.
  • Database of Holocaust Victims from Yad Vashem (this link goes to main page), since the search page was often busy this week. Holocaust Resource Center.
  • Snowbirds and other temporary residents, Florida 2004 from UF's BEBR, first study to try to count these folks.
  • Babelplex: a new translation site that combines the translation tools from Alta Vista, Google and Yahoo!

    Some Interesting stories/Weblogs
  • Mark Tapscott (Heritage Foundation)
    Outside the Beltway
    Doug Thompson
    No Silence Here, Knoxville News
    James Wolcott
  • Media Law blog
  • Chief Blogging Officer
  • Londonist

  • Ann Coulter: really a former Key West transsexual?
  • Pacers/Pistons Guernica large graphic.
  • Nigella Lawson, latest favorite TV chef (although I can hardly ever find her on the Style channel these days....)

  • Wednesday, November 24, 2004

    Help for researchers:
    Poynter's librarian David Shedden has compiled a Dan Rather Timeline with links. Very useful.
    Also, here's a collection of links to Search Engine blogs that can help you keep up with developments in the search engine world. Links compiled by Sree Sreenivasan, also at Poynter.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2004

    Blogging and the MSM:
    (That's Main Stream Media.) More on this topic from new blogger Mark Tapscott of the Heritage Foundation's Center for the Media and Public Policy. Interesting to see comments from someone on another side of this conversation, like this:
    Even so, in assessing its impact on the MSM and the 2004 presidential campaign we find within the hard numbers and the dynamic of the traditional newsroom solid reasons to conclude that the Blogosphere essentially has replaced the assignment editors at The New York Times and The Washington Post as the shapers of the nation's daily news agenda.

    (Via JD Lasica.)

    And a new journalism blog:, 'the UK digital journalism blog'.
    (Via Guardian Newsblog.)

    Different use of blogs:
    The Knoxville News' No Silence Here blog is covering the sudden death of their sports columnist Gary Lundy. A wonderful way to get people's feelings out in the open, and a tribute to a journalist from coworkers, readers and other people in the community.

    On the topic of bloggers, politics and the media, lots are linking to Frank Rich's column from yesterday, Bono's New Casualty: 'Private Ryan' (registration required). A reader notes these quotes, which reflect the 'Mallard syndrome' (see post below) nicely:
      President Bush tried to turn the campaign, in part, into a referendum on Hollywood's lack of a "heart and soul." Now that he's won, administration apparatchiks have declared his victory a repudiation not just of Hollywood's dream factory but of the news industry's reality factory. "The biggest loser was the mainstream media," wrote Peggy Noonan in an online analysis for The Wall Street Journal after Election Day. She predicted that institutions like the networks, The New York Times and, presumably, the print edition of her own newspaper (editorial page excepted) were on their way to being rendered extinct by "the blogosphere and AM radio and the Internet" ­ in other words, by opinion writers like herself.
      In this diet of "news" championed by the right, there's no need for actual reporters who gather facts firsthand by leaving their laptops and broadcast booths behind and risking their lives to bear witness to what is actually happening on the ground in places like Falluja and Baghdad. The facts of current events can become as ideologically fungible as the scientific evidence supporting evolution. Whatever comforting version of events supports your politics is the "news."

    Wow. So if Kevin Sites takes a video you don't like, ignore and/or attack him. He's obviously irrelevant.
    Strange times in journalism these days.....

    Monday, November 22, 2004

    Weighing in on bloggers and journalists:
    A strange series of panels has been running in the 'Mallard Fillmore' comic strip for the past week. If it's not in your local paper (in the one I read these days, it's on the editorial page, next to Doonesbury...), check it out. The King Features Syndicate wants a subscription to see archives but they are available on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer site: Check out, for example, the one from Nov. 20, where Mallard says,
      "Look, Mainstream Media Person, 'Blogs' and talk radio have gotten so big because the traditional media have gotten so out-of-touch "

    Interesting that even the funny papers are getting into this discussion...

    Sites responds:
    Kevin Sites writes about the mosque shooting and how it happened. More on the other blog.

    Sunday, November 21, 2004

    I've finally made some changes on the Behind the News news research and blog directory. I added some new blogs, deleted some that are no longer being updated; and moved Florida blogs into their own category. Now that I'm set up to edit again, I'll be updating the research links and personal pages soon.

    (I tried posting this earlier today but had a Blogger failure. Hope this gets posted before it happens again....)
    Interesting that on the Miami Herald site this morning, the ads on the page were all for Stun Guns. Since The Herald's been writing about the kids tasered by cops recently, appropriate? But particularly puzzling since there was no story on's front page on the topic at the time. Oh, those Google ads....

    Also on The Herald this morning, the continuing series by Debbie Cenziper and Jason Grotto on Florida felons' civil rights. Today's story: Violent felons the most likely to get their rights restored.

    Saturday, November 20, 2004

    Hey, it's my anniversary! Blog anniversary, that is. I started my Website 4 years ago this week. It was a handmade thing with weekly links that I considered a blog of sorts, plus a reference directory (which is still going). I switched to Blogger software in August 2002.
    I only noticed this because I discovered this weekend is The Ramble at Fairchild Tropical Garden. I missed the Ramble for the first time that year because I was so busy trying to get the Web page online. I did get to the Ramble a couple times after that but gave up a couple years ago. It got too crowded. If you went, though, hope it was enjoyable. It is a remarkable place and a lovely gathering.
    (Oh, and great news from Fairchild: The Garden Shop is back online, after a long hiatus. They sell great garden-related gifts.....)

    Weekend update: Other things found this week:
    Nice to not have any politics links for once: although there's still plenty out there. I've been linking some of the voting questions, etc. on the Herald blog.

    I'm still working on getting ready to reorganize the Website: the research links (linked at left under Behind the News) are still mostly good but I have lots of blogs to add to the list. I want to totally change the personal pages, though, since my life situation has changed. No more Miami photos (although I'll keep a changing archive there), and Appalachian mountain photos are being posted on my HighlandsCam photoblog. That's three blogs to take care of, plus the Website, plus contributing occasionally to NewsLibLog. Seems like I'm working more now than when I was working full time.

    More links....

  • Stars and Stripes, 1918-1919: part of the Library of Congress' newly announced project to put hundreds of American newspapers online in digital searchable format from microfilm, this database lets you search or browse pages from the paper.
  • Facts for Thanksgiving coverage from Census.
  • Countryside Alliance: organization fighting the foxhunting ban in the UK.
  • Best Cities for Job Growth, report from Milken Institute, lists Ft. Myers area as best in country, along with several other Florida cites (but Miami is 77th).
  • School Breakfast Report Card 2004, report from Food Research and Action Center on how states serve low-income children.
  • Human Rights Watch has a report about felons being denied public housing; and other reports, including one on Jamaican discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, and stories of Guantanamo detainees.
  • Defeating the Jihadists: a Blueprint, report from The Century Foundation.
  • find all govt recalls in one place.
  • Capital Punishment, 2003: latest stats from DoJ; shows death sentences decreasing (except of women).
  • Vehicle Theft stats, 2001-2003 from NICB. Shows Miami's rank has dropped from 2 to 8.
  • New in Nexis: Herald News of Passaic County, NJ.
  • Times Online (Times of London) no longer charges to read stories. It's free, again!
  • Real Names: this search engine went bust a few years back but now the founder has managed to purchase the URL and get it back online. Search for a word in a URL or domain name and get list of websites. Handy for browsing: searching 'miami' in keyword field gets 590 hits...(277 with 'herald' in domain name)...
  • Google Scholar: search for scholarly data, reports, etc. This search won't be available from main Google interface.
  • Keyhole: recently purchased by Google, this is an animated aerial mapping system (sort of like FIU's TerraFly?) Costs $29.95 but there's a week free trial. There are some sample videos available, like CNN's Hurricane Charley and Fallujah coverage.
  • America's biggest private companies, 2004, from Forbes.
  • Sports Business Links: great list of resources on this hard-to-find topic (team valuations, attendence figures, salaries, etc.) from an economics prof, including lots of databases he's created.
    Some Interesting stories/Weblogs
  • Chief Blogging Officer a blog highlighting useful articles on HighBeam.

  • Friday, November 19, 2004

    Hard to be a journalist these days:
    One of the things I've been covering on my Infomaniac blog at the Miami Herald is the controversy over NBC's Kevin Sites' reporting on U.S. military in Iraq. Reaction to Sites' report is shocking and repugnant.
    Also there: links on Fallujah and more.

    Monday, November 15, 2004

    Weekend update: Other things found this week:
    A late 'weekend' update, being it's Monday morning. At any rate, some really fascinating new reference sources out last week, along with interesting new tools.

    More links....

  • British History Online has free searchable databases covering medieval to early modern history. Search post office directories, proceedings of the House of Lords, office-holders lists, lots more.
  • Afrocaribbean religions: a guide from
  • Google Cheat Sheet: quick tips for using Google search strategies.
  • Terroir-France: French wine guide.
  • FirstGov for Consumers: Health good resources from U.S. govt.
  • Historical Statistics of the U.S., part 1, part 2: PDF of entire book released for the Bicentennial, covers 1790 to 1970. From Census.
  • State Health Rankings 2004 from United Health Foundation.
  • Law Enforcement Officers Killed or Assaulted, 2003, new report from FBI.
  • The Human Cost of Tobacco, report from British Medical Assn.
  • Prisoners in 2003, new stats from DoJ.
  • 10 x 10: a very cool visual summary of the day's top news by pictures.
  • DVIDS: get stories, video and photos from Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan; from the U.S. Army. Also:
    Governments, Politics:
  • World Corruption Perception Index, 2004 from Transparency International.
  • C-Span Campaign Finance Database: search candidates and donors by name or ZIP code, or get top fundraisers by category. Updated monthly.
  • Firefox 1.0 is out. Mozilla's browser has lots of useful features: Search from the address bar; set up to access email or RSS feeds; stop popups (unless you want them) plus scamware and intrusions. Stable, fast, and best of all: tabbed browsing so you can have several pages open at once with only one browser window. You may still need to keep Explorer for some things: I still can't reply or forward messages in Outlook Web (Microsoft wants me to use Explorer); and haven't yet tested Factiva (which didn't work in the old version). I had occasional shutdowns with v. 0.91; don't know yet if that's been fixed.
  • Microsoft Search: beta of the new search set to compete with Google....
  • Blog Search Engine
  • Fan Cost Index from Team Marketing Report. Says Patriots are most expensive show, Dolphins below average. Going to see the Heat, though, although not as high as the Lakers, costs more than most NBA teams.
  • Florida Bird Songs: audio collected by a UF ornithologist.
  • Florida News, a new blog from Tallahassee.

    Some Interesting stories/Weblogs
  • Media Bloggers Association just launched.
  • Wall Street Journal's new EconBlog starts out with a debate on Social Security.
  • Londonist: in the tradition of New York's Gothamist, here's what they're talking about in London...
  • Gadling a blog about 'engaged' travel.
  • I 'R' Us. a pro-tax blog.

  • Thursday, November 11, 2004

    Hiaasen on journalism:
    The Miami New Times scored an interview with Carl Hiaasen. The Miami Herald columnist talks about The Herald and Knight Ridder. It's not pretty:
      "Since I've been at the paper, almost 29 years, I can't tell you how many redesigns there have been. But I can tell you how many actually improved the circulation figures: zero. You can blame the Internet, but if you're not putting out a product people feel they have to have, why the hell would they buy the paper?"

    Hiaasen also has lots to say about Miami's unique political scene, and about his career:
      ..."Well, being a journalist is also a legal way to work out a lot of problems," Hiaasen quips, flashing just the hint of a smile. "I look at it as free therapy...."

    Wednesday, November 10, 2004

    Commentary on Blogging:
    Lots of it going around these days, but I found this column by ex-CBS newsman Eric Engberg to be a thoughtful look at how bloggers covered the election. He likens the process to high school journalism/CB radio, which seems closer to me than 'journalism' (nothing wrong with that!), and also discusses exit polls:
      Let me tell you a few things about "exit polls" as one who was there from the time they were invented and then watched them develop through the nine presidential campaigns I covered. Experienced journalists treat exit polls like hand grenades with the pin pulled; they are unstable and dangerous.
      ...When you the humble reporter are writing a story based on the polls you need one of these gurus standing over your shoulder interpreting what they mean or you almost certainly will screw it up. There is a word for this kind of teamwork and expertise. It’s called "journalism."

    I sure would like to see this discussion continued, but wish people would stop expecting blogging to be journalism. Sure, there are journalist bloggers. But it's not their day job. They're trying to create a new kind if discussion. And so are we all. We need people like Engberg to remind us how different it is.

    Training help:
    Via the American Press Institute, Mike O'Reilly's 12-week program for newsroom research training. Some very good tips here, using the Journalists' Toolbox and common sense. This has been around for awhile but still looks useful.

    Tuesday, November 09, 2004

    On having your own Website:
    Sree Sreenivasan, at Poynter, encourages all reporters to get their own Web domains and Websites, and puts together a great list of journalists who do. Note this list only contains sites with personal domain names, so won't include a site like this one (although I see a couple there).

    On protecting sources:
    Miami Herald reporter David Kidwell, who spent 15 days in jail several years back for refusing to turn over interview notes, writes about the current threat to reporters who try to protect sources.

    Saturday, November 06, 2004

    Weekend update: Other things found this week:
    In this depressing week, most postings again went to the election coverage on The Infomaniac WeBlog on Maybe things will get back again to something like normal here. At any rate, I noticed the Herald blog has a new ad on top that slows loading...just like it used to be on Some readers haven't been able to get in since they added it. Great.

    More links....

  • New York Metropolitan Flora Project has a plant encyclopedia of plants common to Northeast. From Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
  • Less Cash in their Pockets: Trends in Incomes, Wages, Taxes, and Health Spending of Middle-Income Families, 2000-03. From the Economic Policy Institute.
  • Dropout rates in the U.S., 2001 from NCES.
  • Graduation Watch: get grad. rate by college.
  • National Priorities Project database: state data on socio-economic needs and federal expenditures. Create charts, graphs. Must register (free) after first use.
  • Grand Forks Herald interviews Al Neuharth.
  • 100 election front pages from Poynter.
  • Recent Hurricanes in the Caribbean, great map from USAID on ReliefWeb site. Also: Caribbean hurricanes fact sheet.
    Governments, Politics:
  • Offshoring American Jobs: Corporations, Campaign Cash and Bush Administration Policies, new report from Public Citizen (
  • State Department WebFeeds: get the latest news, press briefings, speeches, etc. in your newsreader software.
  • Independent contractors make costs balloon: Raleigh N&O does a study of Blackwater's contracts in Iraq.
  • Real Clear Politics has latest polls and news.
  • professional search has profiles of business people.

  • Tuesday, November 02, 2004

    Blogger has A guide to blogging and the election.

    The Miami Herald is blogging the election with several blogs with many Herald staffers contributing. Look for Election Day Watch at Here's The Miami-Dade vote blog. There is also one covering Broward, and Florida.

    Monday, November 01, 2004

    Help for tomorrow:
    IRE has created another In the News page: Resources for Election 2004. Links here to campaign finance information, and covering election tipsheets and investigative stories.

    Also, from Poynter, Quick Election Links including poll closings, historical votes, voting laws, etc. Compiled by Jon Dube.

    Today's email
    Brings news of a new blog, Emerging Media Audiences, by Kim Garretson. Lots of insight on how media organizations should be rethinking their presentation, as the audience is changed by social networking.

    And, this lovely latest in-box manifestation:
      Compliments of the season. I am John Magason, The Personal assistant to the former Haiti president Dr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, we are all here in Africa on asylum. I am forwarding this proposal to you out of the intuitive confidence I have in you and your ability to assist in the execution of a straight forward transaction. The transaction involves a huge cash investment sum of US87.5M (Eighty Seven Million, Five Hundred Thousand USD) in Real estate business or buying of shares in strong and eliable companies in your country. The investment will be under your supervision and control and on behalf of my boss, Dr Aristide.

    Glad to know the man's not strapped for financing.....