Many journalists use the Internet to background an individual for a story. In this section, we learn about various ways that journalists use online information in their stories.

Exercises


As the education reporter at the Cincinnati Enquirer, Jennifer Mrozowski covered the search for a new school superintendent. Because the search process was secretive, Mrozowski only had his name and current job title. With just those basic facts, she used the Internet to research the superintendent before flying to his home city for an interview.

Break up into small groups and come up with a research strategy to help Mrozowski prepare for her interview with the new superintendent. Focus on finding the people and documents that will help provide the how, what, why, where, when and how of the story.

Jennifer Mrozowski was able to find a considerable amount of information on Cincinnati’s new superintendent just by searching the Internet.

Using only the Internet, research the superintendent of a public school in your area. Write up your findings in a one-page mini-profile.

Read the Mrozowski story.

Note the information that may have come from the Internet, or sources that she may have found off the Internet.

Read Story


Play the video clip of Mrozowski explaining how the Internet was essential in helping her make her deadline by locating sources and leads for her profile on the new superintendent.

As a class, spend time researching the U.S. senator or representative from your area. Divide into small groups with each group researching one aspect of that person’s life: family background and education, political career (wins, losses, opponents), political platform (bills, causes, stances on major issues), the most current newsworthy event in that person’s life.

Each group should write up their findings in a few paragraphs that can be inserted into a larger story on that person.

The Internet is a valuable research tool but it is also loaded with inaccurate information. Some websites are out-of-date. Some are purposely misleading. Others are rife with opinions, not facts.

Find two examples of websites that are subjective in nature, that are designed to convey a point of view or a particular perspective as opposed to objective facts.

Print out the home pages of the two websites and bring them to class to share and discuss. Should such subjective information be used in a news story and how?


Play the video clip of Chicago Tribune reporter Oscar Avila talking about how he uses the Internet when working on stories on the immigration and ethnic communities beat.


Play the video clip of Chicago Tribune projects writer Louise Kiernan discussing the importance of checking out everything you gather from the Internet.

In small groups, brainstorm ways in which you could check out the following pieces of information using Internet sources:

  1. The price of an Amtrak ticket to your city from Chicago now and ten years ago.
  2. The exact date that public schools in your area became desegregated.
  3. The oldest building in your community.
  4. The approximate price of a gallon of milk in 1960.