Tool Talk | August 26, 2015

Borrowing tools from journalists

As an academic librarian who teaches students about research, I often look to journalists to give me research ideas for my students. For example, Journalists’ Resource, published by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, offers summaries of recent and relevant news topics with links to sources. (Hint: subscribe to the weekly email.)

More recently, I discovered The Experiment: 14 Students. 10 Weeks. One Search for Media’s Cutting Edge from the Columbia Journalism School. Their resulting list, the 11 best journalism experiments, can be as relevant in the classroom as in the newsroom.

Several of these experiments will have an immediate place in my classroom (or my life):

  • From Quartz: a notation systems that uses different colors to distinguish “confirmed facts” from “likely truths” from things that the creator doesn’t know. I plan to experiment with such a system — perhaps applied to some free-writing on their research topic — with my LIBR 100 students in the fall.
  • Vox’s card stacks Vox is a site devoted to explaining the big issues in the news.  With their card stacks, they break issues down, in much the same way that we work with students to break down their research questions. I’ve been showing these to students who are doing research in the library for a couple of semesters now — and the cards inspired me to create a similar LIBR 100 assignment last spring.
  • Finally, Narratively, a story-telling site that is fun to read, because we all need a guilty pleasure now and then.

Other easily adaptable tools include:

  • Medium, a new blogging platform.
  • Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune’s Neighborhoods project “shows all sorts of incidents, events, and public information on a map, down to the street level.” This seems like a great model research activity for Urban Studies students, and may prove equally relevant to other social sciences as well.

Which ones will you try?

Image credits:

Thursday morning desk by Tony Delgrosso. Used under a Creative Commons license.


2 Responses to Borrowing tools from journalists

  1. Jeff Allred September 16, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    I haven’t used it in the classroom, but I do like Medium for its combination of aggregation–picking the needles out of the haystack so I find good stuff to read quickly–and annotation–it allows any reader to add highlights or marginal comments. This latter function would seem especially useful in a class, where you could require each student to make a comment and kind of export your class discussion into a public space.

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