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Final Blog- Computer Assisted Reporting Analysis

The Los Angeles Times has been working on a series entitled “Mexico under Siege� since June 2004. A huge amount of reporting has gone into the stories.

The Los Angeles Times realized that the violence was increasing and declared it a drug war. They have sent half dozen reporters to cover the issue.

The Web page keeps a record of every article written on the coverage of the topic. It uses many more platforms than print to tell the story.

For example, the site has a multimedia gallery and an interactive map. The multimedia library has hundreds of pictures displayed as thumbnails that people can click on. When a picture is selected, it enlarges and shows a caption depicting a brief story of what the picture is. Each picture also has a date. This is a powerful way to tell a story using computer assisted reporting. The reporter needed to have camera skills and be able to make a visually pleasing slideshow to tell the story so effectively.

Most importantly, the feature also has an interactive map using many infographics. This section has a map of Mexico covered in different sized bubbles. The size of the bubbles shows readers visually how many people have died of a drug-related cause since Jan. 1, 2007. When the mouse scrolls across the bubbles, it tells how many people have died in that area. There are many different components needed to create something like this. First, correct data is necessary. For this particular project, the data came from the Reforma newspaper’s Justice in Mexico Project. Once the reporters had the data, they had to be able to use computer-assisted reporting skills to format the information to simplify the numbers and make them easy to understand and visually pleasing for the information seeker.

The multimedia section also has a bar graph depicting deaths by week using the same information from the Justice in Mexico Project. The reporters had to carefully analyze the information to be able to effectively make it into a graph.

Finally, the reporters used computer assisted reporting to show a list of “major players� in the Mexican “drug war.� When the mouse scrolls over a face, it enlarges and gives some information about the person and their connection to the drug war. A great deal of reporting and information gathering is involved in a project like this. A group of reporters has to be very organized and efficient to make the story interesting and visually appealing.