Vol. 23, No.1/Fall 2000
News librarians kick up their
heels at NICAR
On Sept. 14, 2000, the National Computer-Assisted Reporting conference met in Lexington, Kentucky. It was a privilege to have so many illustrious reporters in our little city. The conference was sponsored by IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors, www.ire.org), NICAR (National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, www.nicar.org) and the Lexington Herald-Leader. It was attended by about 350 journalists - reporters, editors, news researchers - from print and broadcast media. As an attendee I had the advantage, and disadvantage, of having this terrific conference a mile down the road. It was great that I could go, as could the rest of our News Research staff. But I made the mistake of going into my office on the Friday of the conference, and it quickly became impossible to leave work. Sometimes it is better to leave town to go to a conference.
At any rate, the topics of the conference are very relevant to news researchers: from "Building the Web for your Newsroom," to "Unveiling the Hidden Work of Lobbyists" and "International data." Rather than summarize the many panels, I will refer you to the IRE Resource Center (www.ire.org/resourcecenter/). This web site has the tip sheets from the conference, which not only summarize the panels but also give the details that were mentioned in the discussions. Just search for 'Lexington NICAR' in the tip sheets database and you'll get the whole list of available tip sheets from this conference. More than 1,000 tip sheets are also available from past conferences as well. Audio tapes can be ordered of any of the panelists.
Another part of the annual NICAR conference is the hands-on training. This year, it included SQL, Perl, SPSS, Excel, GIS classes and more. These classes are a very useful portion of this conference. For most classes, there are beginning, intermediate and advanced level sessions. You can get a taste of new data tools, or you can get some sophisticated help - for pretty darn little expense.
And, of course, there is the social swirl. The news researchers gathered Thursday night at the Atomic Café. (Liz Donovan: "I can't believe I ate conch fritters in Kentucky!") It was a great to get together in a smaller group to socialize - new friends and old. Friday night, the Herald-Leader sponsored a reception at Fasig-Tipton, a horse sale pavilion. We had a great Bluegrass band (Reel World String Band - they identify themselves as 'feminist hillbillies') and some very good Kentucky fare. All in all, I think, a very good conference.
Lu-Ann Farrar is the News Research Manager at the Lexington Herald-Leader. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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