Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Big One

I can honestly say that the article in Miami Herald by Stephen Doig entitled “The Big One” is a prime example of how computer-assisted journalism has revolutionized the industry. I think the first thing that needs to be pointed out is that this article was written in the early 1990s as a follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize winning article “What Went Wrong,” which was featured in the same newspaper back in 1992. I bring this up because of the amount of work it took Doig without the assistance of the internet. In the article Doig points out that we ran through several CD-ROM files, which have pretty much been obsolete since the early 2000s, as well as the 7 million records stored on 35 magnetic tape reels.

Having grown up through the 1980s and 90s I remember how difficult it was too research certain bits of information. I mean, where does a kid start when talking about the pyramids of Egypt or baseball statistics when only almanacs, reference books and a library card are your only tools? Having an understanding of where to start is definitely the first step, but also having access as a journalist to larger firms like the National Hurricane Center is a massive help as well.

Doig used his old school journalistic methods, as well as the top resources at the time to help create his own system of tracking weather patterns, damage, reconstruction as well as preventative maintenance records. He is truly a pioneer in the new age of investigative journalism.

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