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JOMC 453.001           Advanced Reporting                  Spring 2008


142 Carroll                              Prof. Philip Meyer                                          Office:

4-5:15 p                                                                     380 Carroll


            Information is plentiful. It used to be scarce. Unfortunately, most of the procedures for doing journalism were developed in a time of information scarcity. Today, the attention of the audience is the scarce good. And the journalist’s mission is evolving from one of hunting and gathering the news to one of processing it for accessibility and relevance.


            This course is about processing. You will learn how to deal with the abundance of information in publicly available databases, or in databases that you construct yourself. You will learn how to manage, analyze, and reduce data to make its meaning and importance clear to your audience, using the tools of social science.


            The main tool is SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). We’ll use it to deal with datasets of increasing complexity. The good news about SPSS is that it is easy to use. The bad news is that it is expensive.


            You can look at some of the kinds of data that we’ll be using by going to Blackboard and clicking External Links. And there will be a special directory, “Meyer on Howell,” where I’ll park the working copies of our datasets.


            At the end of each Wednesday class, you’ll be given a data analysis assignment to be turned in the following Monday.  You will want to carry a flash drive with you to make this easier.


            Grades will be assigned as follows:


            Weekend exercises:     20%

            Midterm exam             20

            Project story                40

            Final exam                   20


            The project story will combine data analysis with good, old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting. You will get out of the building to talk to real people.


            The textbooks are:


            Meyer, Precision Journalism: A Reporter’s Introduction to Social Science Methods.


            Johnson, Ver 1.0 Proceedings: A workshop on public database verification for journalists and social scientists.


            The week by week plan is highly structured at the start but will become more like improv theater as we develop the main projects. Therefore only the first few weeks are detailed. We’ll fill in the rest as we go.



JOMC 453.001

Spring 2008







Jan. 9

Meyer, Chapter 1

Johnson, Chapters 1,3

Journalism without newspapers




Jan. 14

Meyer, Chapter 2

Theory of games and economic behavior




Jan. 16

Meyer, Chapter 3

Simple data analysis. Frequencies with SPSS




Jan. 21

MLK Day – no class





Jan. 23

Meyer, Chapter 4

Crosstabs with SPSS




Jan. 28

Johnson, Chapters 4, 5

The dirty data problem

The “Compute” function




Jan. 30

Meyer, Chapter 4

Scatterplots with SPSS

The "Recode" function




Feb. 4

Johnson Chapter 11

Meyer, Chapter 10

Introduction to the data




Feb. 6

Meyer, Chapters 5, 6

Dr. Thomas Clark, Assoc. M.E.
guest speaker




Feb. 11

Meyer, Chapter 7

John  Smith, Orange County  Tax  Assessor,  guest speaker




Feb. 13


Show and tell session




Feb. 18


Testing the Babb conjecture;

Review of SPSS commands




Feb. 20






Feb. 25






Feb. 27






Mar. 3






Mar. 5












Mar. 17






Mar. 19






Mar. 24






Mar. 26






Mar. 31






Apr. 2






Apr. 7






Apr. 9






Apr. 14






Apr. 16






Apr. 21






Apr. 23




Your exam is scheduled for April 28