* Garrison, Bruce (1995). Computer-Assisted Reporting. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. 410 pp. Hardback, $59.95. Paperback, $24.95.
Anyone who has tried to teach--or design--a computer-assisted reporting course can confirm there has been a need for a computer-assisted reporting textbook. There still is--despite Bruce Garrison's new, 410-page tome titled Computer Assisted Reporting.
That observation is not meant to disparage Garrison's effort. For, in fact, it's impossible to believe that teachers, editors, and anyone else interested in computer-assisted reporting (CAR) would not learn from this veteran textbook writer's comprehensive, impressively researched volume.
After all, it describes and discusses everything from analytical mapping to the use of Z-term, a communications package that allows one computer to "talk" to another. But the descriptions often run long. Garrison's treatment of on-line bulletin board systems (BBS) consumes 30 pages--roughly 4,700 words--and includes information on "Setting up a newsroom BBS." In the second edition of her slim, widely used paperback Computer Assisted Research: A Guide to Tapping Online Information, Nora Paul doesn't tell how to establish a bulletin board system. But she covers the need-to-know basics of bulletin board usage in about 1,300 words.
Because of its comprehensiveness, Garrison's Computer Assisted Reporting must be considered a helpful book. But it's not for undergraduates. It's not for graduate students either, unless they are keenly interested in computers and their newsroom …