John Mecklin sends in word of initiatives through which the digital revolution that has been undermining in-depth reportage may be ready to give something back, through a new academic and professional discipline known as "computational journalism." "James Hamilton, director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke University, is in the process of filling an endowed chair with a professor who will develop sophisticated computing tools that enhance the capabilities — and, perhaps more important in this economic climate, the efficiency — of journalists and other citizens who are trying to hold public officials and institutions accountable. The goal: Computer algorithms that can sort through the huge amounts of databased information available on the Internet, providing public-interest reporters with sets of potential story leads they otherwise might never have found. Or, in short, data mining in the public interest."
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