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Upending the basin: Making data dance

Upending the Basin static

Last week I covered the release of an animated model of an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac. The greatest question it prompted in my mind: Why didn’t we do that? I’ll grant that the researcher who put that one together had studied Great Lakes currents for 30 years. Journalists aren’t going to replicate that kind of expertise. But journalists aren’t expected to generate the data. Continue Reading →

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PSA: Mercury – It’s in the fish

mercury fish

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KLSoDJJnVo&feature=plcp

Mercury has found its way not only into our households, but also into our aquatic environment, according to this public service announcement from the Michigan Department of Community Health. “A person’s susceptibility to being harmed by the mercury in fish depends on their age, current health status, genetics, and chemical exposure history,” said Christina Bush, a health department toxicologist. “Given this complex set of factors, it is not known how much mercury it would take to harm any given individual. MDCH issues Fish Consumption Guidelines to help people choose fish that are low in mercury and safer for consumption by everyone, including pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and young children.” The state hosts a website where these guidelines are available. Continue Reading →

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Transparency wouldn’t satisfy Joe Rossi, how about you?

Upending the Basin rotation

Commentary
Many reporters of my generation went into journalism because of the Watergate scandal. Holding public officials accountable – public service journalism – was the attraction then. So, too, were Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in All the president’s men, the movie version of that story. Me? I was more of a Lou Grant kind of guy. Continue Reading →

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Kittens, Great Lakes ice and paying for journalism

Upending the Basin static

Commentary
The local historical society recently hosted a panel discussion of the history of the Lansing (Michigan) State Journal. That’s my local newspaper and I was particularly interested in the event as I had once worked there as an editor. What really caught my interest in a video of the discussion was a longtime State Journal staffer’s explanation of the publication’s increasing use of metrics to measure how news is consumed. She described how a video screen in the newsroom reports and ranks in real time the top 10 stories that people are reading online. Every week reporters get a report of how many people read their stories each day. Continue Reading →

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Big Ten’s Eco Efforts: Indiana University

Stacks of old furniture and used goods line up all around the Hoosier to Hoosier sale. Photo: Indiana University.

In the spirit of our “Green Gridirons” series (but just in case college football wasn’t your thing), the “Big Ten’s Eco Efforts” series highlights creative off-the-field sustainability efforts. In the market for a karaoke machine or a piñata? What about a tie-dye lawn chair? The Hoosier to Hoosier sale may provide you with exactly what you’re looking for. It is a reuse program established in 2010 to prevent dorm furnishings from being taken to landfills during student move-out. Continue Reading →

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