Some more on woe for us

Picking up on Chi Trib’s story of Working for Less in Decatur, it should be noted that Illinois taxes have a role to play in Illinois’ job picture.  If Decatur is doing badly compared to 10 years ago, can that have something to do with high taxes in Illinois vs. in, say, Tennessee or Florida.  Or any other state that is not doing as badly.  This is presuming that jobs have left Illinois not only for China but also for Tennessee and Florida.  I ask this not knowing the answer but wanting to know it and finding nothing to help me in the story at hand.

Another point has to do with what Nicholas Lemann is trying to do at Columbia Journalism, as explained by Hugh Hewitt in Weekly Standard, namely teach

a capacity to discover and analyze data.  . . . more sophisticated research and analytical skills than most journalists bring to the table. 

"'Regression analysis is the best example,' [Lemann] tells me [Hewitt]. 'Every social science study in the United States depends upon regression analysis, but almost no reporters understand it. You can't read and understand these studies if you don't know how regression analysis works. I taught myself how to do it, and we are going to teach the M.A. students, equipping them to go beyond their ordinary reliance on dueling experts interpreting studies.'"

Mark Tapscott, who is quoting the Hewitt article, says he’s been trying to do just that at the Heritage Foundation, where he went in 1999 from his daily-paper job.  It’s Computer-Assisted Research and Reporting (CARR).  He runs one– and two-day CARR “boot camps” at the foundation.  Nine are scheduled for 2006.  It’s the 7th year for the camps, which have graduated 200–plus newsies.  This year they are partnering with the Media Bloggers Association for a two-day camp in Nashville as part of the association’s annual meeting.  This is more than checking and verifying, copy-desk style.  They work on “computer modelling.”  One of their models is the

U.S. economic model described by The New York Times as among "the most frequently used" in Washington. Investor's Business Daily used [Heritage’s] U.S. economic model to compare the 2000 presidential candidates tax proposals. Other available models include the Heritage World Trade Model that measures things like the economic impacts of changing trade trends and tariffs and the Social Security Rate of Return Model, the first to project returns by ethnicity and geography.

There’s more, more, more in all this, and it takes us far beyond the tried and still true checking it out when your mother says she loves you, of City News lore.

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