March 15, 2010

Knight Center wraps up online Portuguese course, ‘Introduction to Computer Assisted Reporting’

Journalists need to learn to consider the computer as their best friend, and the Introduction to Computer Assisted Reporting course from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is designed to do just that.

The computer is the “fundamental tool to obtain information, analyze it, store it in a way to be able to retrieve it efficiently and make connections,” said José Roberto de Toledo, Brazilian journalist and course instructor.

The online course in Portuguese, which ran April 12 to May 9, 2010, was aimed at journalists who want to learn how to better use the computer for conducting investigations.

Applications to the course were accepted March 15-28, 2010, until 10 p.m. Brazil time.

For more details about this training opportunity, see the Course Information Sheet.

During the past eight years, the course has evolved to meet students’ demands and incorporate changes in technology and development of new programs, such as Evernote, said Toledo, who since 1996 has specialized in computer-assisted reporting techniques.

Throughout the course, journalists will learn advanced Internet search techniques, how to develop their own databases, and how to use Excel to analyze information.

“We left the age of meager information for the age of exponential abundance of data,” Toledo said. “Thus, the skills required of journalists have changed: they need to know how to find a needle in a haystack, to discern what is important and what is not, to know how to combine Fact A with Fact B and transform it into information. The course aims to help journalists make this transition.”

Thanks to the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI), the Knight Center and courses like this one, computer-assisted reporting in Brazil really has taken off, said Toledo, one of the ABRAJI founders.

“Computer-assisted reporting has stopped being a monopoly of just one newsroom and a handful of journalists and has become a tool for daily use for most reporters and editors from all over Brazil,” he said.

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin was launched in 2002 by professor Rosental Calmon Alves. Thanks to generous grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the center has assisted thousands of journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean. For more information, contact the Knight Center’s program manager, Jennifer Potter-Miller at jpotterandreu@mail.utexas.edu or +1 512 471-1391.