Wednesdays: 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Ethics and Professional Standards
This is a professional school, and you’ll be held to professional standards in both assignments and conduct. As a student of journalism, you must read and adhere to the School’s policies.
1.Our ethics policy sets out the rules of behaviour that you, as students and journalists, are expected to follow as you carry out your assignments for this course.
2.Our publishing policy requires certain authorizations before journalistic coursework can be published outside of the class. In addition, your sources must understand that any assignments they are associated with may be published outside of class.
3.Our policy on electronic media usage requires that you follow copyright regulations with respect to your use of all materials culled from the Internet.
Graduate students can find all three policies here: https://carleton.ca/sjc/
You are expected to be familiar with these policies and apply them to your work. Failure to abide by them will adversely affect your standing in the course.
1) Dollars and Sense story outline due Mon., Jan. 22, midnight.
2) Dollars and Sense story due Sun., Feb. 4, noon.
3) Backstory outline due Mon., Feb. 12, noon.
4) Access-to-information requests must be filed by Sun., Feb. 18.
5) Data visualization outline due Mon., Feb. 26, noon.
6) Backstory assignment due Sun., March 4, noon.
7) Data visualization due Sun., March 18, noon.
8) Access-to-information assignment due Sun., March 25, noon.
Course Schedule (TOP)
Jan. 10: a. Course introduction b. Elements of storytelling (part one) c. Dollars and Sense (part one)
|| Reading: Digging Deeper, Chapters 1, 2, 9 and Appendix – Finance Facts, 12
Jan. 17: a. Dollars and Sense (part two) b. Assignment: Dollars and Sense story c. Elements of Storytelling (part two)
|| Reading: Digger Deeper, Chapter 10
Jan. 24: a. Introduction to Access to information b. Access-to-information tips: Previously released records c. Assignment: Access to information d. One-on-ones / Research time
|| Reading: Digging Deeper, Chapters 6
Jan. 31: a. Dollars and Sense story due Sun. Feb. 4, noon b. Access-to-information tips: Focusing a request, negotiating, seeking partial releases c. Introduction to historical records d. Assignment: Backstory
|| Reading review of chapters covered so far to prepare for the following week’s quiz
Feb. 7: a. Data (part one) b. Quiz based on readings c. One-on-ones / Research time
|| Optional reading: The Data Journalist: Chapters 2, 4
Feb. 14: a. Access-to-information requests must be filed by Sun., Feb. 18 b. Mid-term checkup via EDC c. Dollars and Sense story feedback d. Data (part two) e. Assignment: Data visualization
|| Optional reading: The Data Journalist: Chapter 8
Feb. 21: Break Week. No class scheduled.
Feb. 28: a. Backstory assignment due Sun., March 4, noon b. Data (part three)
c. One-on-ones / Research time
March 7: a. Data (part four) b. One-on-ones / Research time
|| Reading review: Digging Deeper: Chapter 10
March 14: a. Data visualization due Sun., March 18, noon b. Backstory feedback c. Access-to-information tips: Making sense of records (decoding documents, chronologies)
|| Reading: Digging Deeper: Chapter 4
March 21: a. Access-to-information assignment due Sun., March 25, noon. b. Public Records (part one)
|| Reading: Digging Deeper, Chapter 8
March 28: a. Data story feedback b. Quiz based on readings c. Public Records (part two)
April 4: a. Access-to-information feedback b. Enterprise journalism tactics
Dollars and Sense story (TOP)
A news story about the City of Ottawa budget. 600 words, due Sun. Feb. 4, noon. (An outline is due Mon., Jan. 22, at midnight)
What is required?
1) A news story about any aspect of the City of Ottawa’s program spending that you obtain from the 2018 online budget tables.
2) The story MUST come from the budget table
3) Upload the story to the first of the four categories on the website that will be created for the assignments.
4) At least two interviews with an expert and an individual with a direct connection to the specific program or program area at the heart of the story. For instance, a community group receiving less money this year compared to the previous year.
What’s to be submitted?
1) An emailed, 500-word explanation in a Word document that briefly explains — in point form, even — the steps you took to get the story, the coordinates of your interviewees and the people you attempted to interview.
2) An Excel sheet with your calculations emailed as an attachment.
3) In addition to uploading the story to the assigned category on our website, a Word document with your actual story.
4) The uploaded story to the website should have at least two visualizations: a photograph and a the key numbers displayed in a chart, using a program like Infogram. Please click here to obtain a brief tutorial that explains how to upload your numbers. For now, please ignore the DocumentCloud reference in step 2.
Q. What should be in the draft that I submit?
A. I only need a tightly written lead, based on the principles we’ve discussed in class, followed by a point form description of who you’ve interviewed, the research you’ve conducted, and where you see the story heading.
Q. How can I write a lead if I haven’t completed my research?
A. Write a lead based on the information at hand. Admittedly, the story may changed based on what you discover. However, the exercise of writing early drafts helps sharpen the mind and should keep you focused.
Q. Must the story emerge from the numbers in the budget that I’ve discovered?
A. Yes! However, don’t assume you know the reason behind the increase or decrease until you’ve conducted the research.
Q. Can I write about any city program?
Q. Once I choose a program, should I ask the city for the kind of detailed breakdown we discussed in class?
A. Yes, but if you get stonewalled, then figure out another creative way to write about the program in question using the numbers you have. For instance, you can compare it to spending increases for similar programs, and then find one example that illustrates how the money is spent.
A. Okay, but ideally, I’d like a more detailed of the program area of interest. So, how do I obtain it?
Q. Try going through the city’s communications department.
Q. Can you provide an example of a budget that is broken down into its component parts?
A. Sure thing. Check out the “Cultural Services” breakdown in the worksheet
entitled “CSCF Supp” in this Excel workbook.
Q. Who should I interview?
A. It can be an expert like a city councillor, bureaucrat or university professor, in addition to an individual or organization that benefits from the program in question.
Q. What if I have trouble contacting people?
A. To be on the safe side, avoid relying on a limited number of sources. The wider you cast your net, the better.
Q. Can I accept an emailed statement as one of the interviews?
A. Yes, but ONLY if it’s a city official. And only after you’ve pushed for something in-person. If you’re stuck with a statement, be sure to set it up in the story by pointing out that the city official in question refused an interview, choosing instead to issue a statement that avoided answering the question. Then, be sure to paraphrase and quote selectively from the statement, if at all. In short, no long, boring, jargon-laden statements that say nothing but give the appearance of accountability.
Q. Can I still submit a draft if I haven’t done any interviews?
A. Absolutely! You can craft a lead, and then spell out who you’d like to interview. This step alone will allow for some healthy brainstorming well ahead of your deadline, which should make it easier to find the right voices.
Backstory assignment (TOP)
A story that draws on archival- or library-based sources to provide historical depth on a current issue or event. 600 words, due Sun., March 4, noon. (An outline is due Mon., Feb. 12, noon.) Details to follow.
Data visualization (TOP)
A digital visualization that tells a story based on analysis of data from a federal, provincial or municipal government open-data portal, due Sun., March 18, noon. (An outline is due Mon., Feb. 26, noon.) Details to follow.
Access to Information assignment (TOP)
An exercise involving preparation and submission of freedom-of-information requests to all levels of government, due Sun., March 25, noon. (Requests must be filed by Sun., Feb. 18.) Details to follow.
Week One (TOP)
What you will learn:
Elements of a good story
Key essentials to following money
Reading the City of Ottawa’s 2018 budget in a spreadsheet
Apple financial statements
Apple’s net income figures in DocumentCloud
Salvation Army’s Vanier shelter gets council’s OK
List of charities (Charities Listings)
The Paradise Papers investigation
Updated: Ottawa city’s draft budget keeps tax promise, puts focus on infrastructure, social services
City of Ottawa budgets
Week Two (TOP)
Two Maritime provinces announce deals for marijuana regulations and supply
‘This is not a drill’: Accidental ballistic missile alert causes panic in Hawaii
Week Three (TOP)
City Council & Committee Agendas & Minutes
Access to Information sites
Access to Information: general info
Federal Departments and Agencies
Access to Information and Privacy Coordinators
Access to Information request forms
Access to Information fillable request form
Search Summaries of Completed ATI Requests
Exemptions under the Access to Information Act (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)
Office of the Information Commissioner
Complaint form: http://www.oic-ci.gc.ca/eng/lc-cj-logde-complaint-deposer-plainte.aspx
Office of the Privacy Commissioner
PROVINCES AND TERRITORIES
Completed requests: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/search?id=4BAD1D13C68243D1960FECBBF7B8B091
Newfoundland and Labrador
Completed requests: http://atipp-search.gov.nl.ca/
Completed requests: https://foipop.novascotia.ca/foia/#/home
The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia
Halifax Regional Municipality
Completed requests: https://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/accountability-and-transparency/accountability-framework/freedom-information-and-protection-privacy/disclosure-mfippa-requests
Completed requests: http://vancouver.ca/your-government/information-released-through-foi-requests-this-year.aspx
Week Four (TOP)
Week Five (TOP)
Week Six (TOP)
Week Seven (TOP)
Week Eight (TOP)
Week Nine (TOP)
Week Ten (TOP)
Week Eleven (TOP)
Week Twelve (TOP)
From week one
Ottawa budget tutorial.pdf
From week two
To download the DocumentCloud tutorial, please click here.