Vol. 22, No.1/Fall 1999
|Library Profile: Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Research Center
By Barbara Hijek
The Sun-Sentinel Editorial Research Center is a state-of-the-art facility. Last March, Lisa Peterson and her team launched SunSpot, our Intranet. SunSpot provides access to daily newsroom announcements, our text archive, wire services, live and archived photos, a graphics tracker, online stylebook, and extensive research links, as well as other newsroom features. The launch, which was highlighted in our in-house publication, Between Editions, was well-received in our newsroom. Word of SunSpot's advanced features quickly spread, with it being featured in the June 12, 1999 edition of Editor & Publisher.
We are proud that our newsroom considers our department a valuable recruiting tool. Newsroom job candidates are scheduled for a tour of research and get to meet our staff during the interview process. We attend daily news budget meetings and assist in newsroom projects and special company projects. Every year the Sun-Sentinel sponsors a one-week onsite NICAR boot camp. John Maines assists with this program. John, our full-time CAR guru, has over 20 years reporting experience, and his byline frequently appears on our major front page CAR projects.
Early this year, John's research helped generate articles about an alleged mortgage fraud involving hundreds of Fort Lauderdale homes and millions of dollars borrowed from banks. The stories led to investigations now underway by local, state and federal agencies.
As a matter of fact, our researchers frequently get print credits for their contributions. Last year, Barbara Hijek received print credit for a series on cosmetic surgery that was a Pulitzer finalist in Investigative Reporting.
Besides providing top-notch research, our staff is committed to training. Each month members of our staff offer classes on spreadsheet analysis, navigating the Internet/Intranet and searching our text/photo archives. Next year we are expanding our offerings to include training on beat-specific resources, public records, people finding resources, and court access. Once trained, reporters and editors will have access to various databases, such as DBT. Some of our business reporters already have Dow Jones access.
Currently, we are spearheading a training program in our newsroom called Core Competencies in Electronic Journalism. This program includes beat-specific training. We also travel to our bureaus to train staffers. This has been very well received.
Members of our staff are frequently nominated for an in-house contest called Top of the News. Most of our staff have won this contest for the Behind the Scenes category which carries a cash prize.
Our information coordinators deserve special recognition. They arrive seven days a week at 4:00 a.m. to enhance our stories and to make sure our reporters and outside vendors have same-day access to our stories.
Recently, Dean Perry supervised the upgrade of our SAVE system to Labrador. We use the AP Preserver to archive our photos.
Much of the ERC's success is due to Bob Isaacs who retired last April.
Because of Bob's insight and hard work, our archives are searchable from 1985 - almost 15 years of text archives! Bob also installed an Image Archiving system. Millions of our valuable clips were scanned into this system for easy retrieval. This system also insures that our clips won't ever get lost.
The Sun-Sentinel and its Executive Managing Editor, Earl Maucker, strongly support our department. We have access to all the major online databases, including court systems for all three South Florida counties that we cover, Pacer, DBT, Lexis-Nexis, and Dow Jones Interactive to name a few. Last year, our staffers attended national conferences such as SLA, Intranet Librarian and NICAR. We are hosting the Florida News Librarian Association (FNLA) Annual Conference this year on October 29th.
Barbara Hijek is the ERC Manager at the Sun-Sentinel. Her email is email@example.com.
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