From Hong Kong—
A report on the press after China’s return

From the United States—
Reports on technological tools to help journalists track international stories from their office computers

Peter Stein, Managing Editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal, opens our section with a close-up view of how the press handles controversial stories—such as recent trials of dissidents in China—in the wake of Hong Kong’s 1997 transfer to Chinese sovereignty. His report reveals the emergence of “quiet self-censorship,” evident in the degree to which newspapers are willing to probe and analyze sensitive political topics.

The rest of the section examines from a variety of perspectives the role that technology is able to play in assisting reporters with the coverage of stories that involve reporting across national borders. Using sophisticated software programs to guide computer-assisted reporting, large databases of information can be untangled by journalists who want to investigate the financial activities of multinational companies or set out to analyze politicians’ performances or report on charges of price gouging in telephone rates.

Brant Houston, the Executive Director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. and the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, writes the first of these articles. He provides examples from Denmark and South America in which journalists put their newly acquired skills to work in locating and analyzing data and publishing important news stories based on their findings.

Maud S. Beelman, Director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, follows with a modern-day tale about the “ties that bind journalists,” links that are now located in cyberspace.

Christopher Simpson, Director of the Project on Satellite Imagery and the News Media at American University, describes what reporters can learn by examining some of the millions of non-classified, high resolution images of earth that are available on line, thanks to satellite technology.

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