One thing I love about working with journalists is how generous they are when it comes to sharing resources and strategies. They may delight in beating each others’ brains out on breaking news or investigations, but they’re also more than willing to tell how they did it–not just to brag but to help other journalists do better work down the line. Two new guides that recently crossed my virtual desk will do just that.
ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times spent 18 months looking into how California regulates nurses and found breakdowns that let nurses with criminal convictions and positive drug tests continue to work. How did they do it? Their “reporting recipe” is now online. It’s a step-by-step guide that can help journalists investigate how professional regulatory boards work or fail to work in other states.
The second guide, from SPJ, is designed to help reporters navigate the tricky terrain of FERPA, the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. As the guide notes, the law “has been twisted beyond recognition, keeping school lunch menus, graduation honors and athletic travel records secret.” The new reporter’s guide to FERPA explains how reporters can “acquire school records they are legally entitled to while still protecting student privacy.”
Tons of other reporting guides are also available on line, including SPJ’s Open Doors guide to accessing government records; the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press’s guide to HIPAA, the medical privacy law; the somewhat dated but still useful journalist’s guide to covering bioterrorism from RTDNF; and the new guide to covering disasters that I helped to write for ICFJ.
What other guides for journalists by journalists would you add to the list?