The University of Maryland’s J-Lab sent out itsÂ latest project updateÂ including a reminder about theÂ Knight Citizen News Network, a great and evolving online catalog of tips, tricks and tools for creating and managing local news sites.
IncludedÂ wasÂ a calculatorÂ that allowsÂ anyoneÂ to assess “the likelihoodÂ that a 9th graderÂ will completeÂ high school on time.”Â The calculator is searchable by school district.Â IÂ usedÂ it to determine howÂ theÂ Â 2005Â on-time graduation rate of my district,Â San Leandro UnifiedÂ (76.2Â %) compared to that of California (63.3%)Â and the nation (71.3%).
Shocking in aÂ high-tech state inÂ a knowledge economyÂ oneÂ in threeÂ of young adultsÂ start their working livesÂ withoutÂ this minimal credential. In any event the calculator, called the Finish Line, wasÂ was funded byÂ a New Voices grant, one of several idea-seeding programs runÂ by the J-Lab. ThisÂ notion of adding a data service to reported work is taking hold as an expectation of what journalists should deliver. If the objective of journalism is to help people understand and thereby control the world,Â then stories, even those gussied up with pictures and sounds, are not the only tools available. We haveÂ databases, animation, conversation and community input as the new methods for creating not merely the awareness but the sense of civic engagement that makes change possible.