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Precision Journalism: A Reporter's Introduction to Social Science Methods Paperback – February 25, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0742510883 ISBN-10: 0742510883 Edition: Fourth Edition
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Precision Journalism is a must-read for journalists intending to do in-depth reporting in the 21st century―whether it involves polling, data analysis, or understanding complex reports. This updated edition clearly explains social science methods and how to effectively use them to increase the accuracy and credibility of news stories. (Brant Houston, University of Missouri, Columbia)

Precision Journalism is the mother ship from which most other books on computer-assisted journalism were launched. Philip Meyer not only encouraged journalists to learn social science methods three decades ago, but he also provided a clear, user-friendly book to get them started. Now in its fourth edition, Precision Journalism continues to be an important resource in the arsenal of tools available to journalism educators, students, and practitioners. (Kevin Kawamoto, University of Washington)

In his professional mode, Meyer leads readers into becoming as comfortable with numbers as with words―data analysis, basic statistical procedures, constructing and interpreting surveys, using databases, and much more. At the same time he warns working journalists not to get too comfortable with numbers. (Columbia Journalism Review)

Philip Meyer's vision of 'precision journalism' as a standard of excellence for our profession is sharper than ever in this thoroughly updated and expanded edition of his classic book. (Stephen K. Doig, Arizona State University)

About the Author

Philip Meyer is the Knight Chair in Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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More About the Author

Philip Meyer (1930- ) began his newspaper career as a carrier for the Clay Center (Kansas) Dispatch in 1943. He still porches his neighbors' newspapers when he finds them thrown carelessly at the curb. He majored in journalism at Kansas State and was editor of the daily Collegian his final semester in 1952. After serving two years in the Navy, he joined the Topeka Daily Capital as assistant state editor and met his wife there. She had a part-time job writing wedding stories, and she wrote their wedding story in 1956.
Their wedding trip took them to Chapel Hill, N.C., where they remained while Meyer worked on his M.A. in political science. In 1958, the Miami Herald hired him to be its education writer, and he covered Florida's first court-ordered school desegregation. In 1962, he was posted to the Knight Newspapers Washington Bureau as correspondent for the Herald's sister paper, the Akron Beacon Journal. He won a Nieman fellowship to Harvard with the help of his bureau chief, Edwin A. Lahey, who had been a member of the first class of Nieman fellows in 1938. At Harvard, he studied the quantitative methods in social science that he had avoided in graduate school. He applied those methods while on loan to the Detroit Free Press to help cover the 1967 riot in that city. The use of survey research to discover the underlying causes of the riot was one factor in the awarding of the Pulitzer Prize for local general reporting to the staff of the Free Press.
The civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s offered more opportunities for demonstrating the journalistic application of social science methods, and the Russell Sage Foundation supported the writing of his first book, Precision Journalism, published in 1973. In 1978, Meyer turned his attention to newspaper marketing problems and joined the corporate headquarters of what by then was Knight Ridder Newspapers. Chapel Hill lured him back with a Kenan professorship in 1981, and he became the school's first Knight Chair in Journalism professor a few years later.
Professor Meyer retired in 2008 and started writing a memoir that was published in 2012 as Paper Route: Finding My Way to Precision Journalism.

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