A Portal for Us

By: Charles Bowen

When I first got online in the early 1980s through commercial dialup services like CompuServe and The Source, it surprised me that so many of my fellow journalists were largely uninterested in this exciting new medium. Even 10 years later, when the World Wide Web came into our lives, most editors and publishers were unaware, uninterested or openly hostile toward the Internet, perhaps worried about turf wars in the information world.

Journalists should have played a bigger role in shaping the Net in those formative years. After all, much earlier than many other businesses, newsrooms were computerized in the 1970s and early ’80s (albeit for production, not information gathering). But banks and music publishers, movie studios and even cartoon networks had a much greater impact on the first years of the Web than did, say, The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.

But even when their employers seemed initially unimpressed by the Internet, individual reporters and editors — and many of their professional organizations — saw the Net’s power early on. It’s evidenced by the growing number of online journalism toolkits that have been available on the Web. And that number continues to grow.

One of the best new journalism portals I’ve found is, a cooperative venture by the Project of Excellence in Journalism and the Committee of Concerned Journalists. Visit and find a catalog of tools, techniques and ideas, empirical research, job links and other helpful materials for the working press, journalism students and the general public. Under “Resources We Offer,” the site provides:

* Research. Here you’ll find features including a number of research reports for the general public, dealing with topics ranging from Jessica Lynch and “media myth-making in the Iraq War” to ownership of local TV news.

* Books and Articles. Links here connect to works by PEJ and CCJ, as well as relevant articles and speeches.

* Education and Training. Here find details of training programs for newsrooms, citizen-journalist forms and case studies for journalism schools.

* Journalism Tools. There’s lots to add here to your online toolbelt, with specific online resources for print journalists, broadcast journalists, students, managers, teachers and citizens.

* Professional Guidelines. This section details core principles and guidelines that the public should expect from its press. “After listening to hundreds of journalists and studying their work,” says an online statement, “we have culled together these defining principles.”

* Daily Briefing. Come here for a daily update of press-related stories from various fields of journalism.

* Other Journalism Sites. Even more links here, especially for journalism students and job hunters.

Other considerations for using in your work:

1. If you’re in a hurry, you can search the entire site from the opening page.

2. The site has a free electronic newsletter you can sign up for. Select the “Get Involved” tab on any page and click “Join Our E-mail List” from the drop-down menu.

3. For further background about the resource, choose “Frequently Asked Questions” from the “Who We Are” tab at the top of any page.

You can read the last 20 “Reporter’s Digital How-to” columns on our index page.

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