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Precision Journalism

Stephen K. Doig


Precision journalism is the use of social and behavioral science →  Research Methods to gather and analyze data, bringing a level of rigor to journalistic work beyond anecdotal evidence. Although it can be practiced without computers, precision journalism is usually a subset of “computer-assisted reporting ,” the catch-all term for anything from using the Internet for gathering information to developing newsroom intranets for sharing information among reporters. Another common term is “database journalism,” which focuses on gathering and analyzing large collections of government data. Precision journalism may expand most in places with high concentrations of computers, where public records exist in electronic form, but internationally journalists practice it using any available techniques if they can get access to information and have sufficient training to carry out an analysis. The term “precision journalism,” and the central idea behind it, were popularized by the 1973 book of the same name written by Knight-Ridder reporter Philip Meyer. He had discovered the journalistic potential of using public opinion research (→  Survey ) and other social science methods during a sabbatical year at Harvard University in 1966–1967. He applied what he learned shortly thereafter by doing groundbreaking surveys of participants in race riots in Detroit and Miami. He credits journalism educator ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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