CAR: Don’t just swallow, chew on your facts

The truth is out there, but not necessarily on a plate.

The prospect of CAR – computer assisted reporting, totally frazzled my little brain.

CAR is a far cry from just typing in a name into a search engine. This is nitty-gritty investigative, mathematical stuff.  CAR is about requesting information that we are all entitled to know about – such as The Freedom of Information Act, and then (after probably a long wait) taking the data away and analysing it.

CAR can include all sorts of  programmes such as Excel, SPSS… and for those journos who are good with numbers this is a great way to unravel exciting stories, and challenge information we may otherwise take for granted.

Quinn, 1999. “CAR refers to the tools and techniques to help you think up story ideas. It’s about using tools and techniques to the breadth, depth and quality of reporting”.

Many Journalists have made break-throughs using CAR; Heather Brook, who helped to break the M.Ps expenses scandal, Elena Egawhary, and Stephen Grey.

(fancy slide show for those not in the know)

Okaaaaaaay. So I’m way out of my depth here, (SPSS was never my forte I have to admit). BUT I realised that even if you’re not the worlds greatest maths whizz, (ahem). CAR methods can really draw your attention to something that Journalists sometimes ignore: analysing data and fact. This should be carried out every time you research a story. You need to do this, otherwise you will just find yourself regurgitating something that might not necessarily be accurate, or true.


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