Version 2013 (January 2013) online here since 1994, now celebrating 19 years!
In your email, outline your story, mention your publication, give your deadline, state your information needs, and sign off with your name and email address.
For BASIC stuff (as itemized by other journalists and researchers), try:
"Take me for a ride in your car-carr, take me for a ride in your car-carr..." ---- Woody Guthrie, pre-internet top investigative troubadour.
Computer-Assisted Reporting, Computer-Assisted Research, Computer-Assisted Reporting and Research, Computer-Assisted Journalism, CAR, CARR....all mean different things to different people. Let's just call it all CARR.
CARR means using/creating CD-ROMs. CARR means gathering stuff off commercial databases and networks (Nexis, Internet). CARR means using computers for delivering information in alternative formats such as e-zines, web-authoring or online newspapers. CARR means muiltimedia. CARR means using digital libraries. CARR means New Media, CARR means convergence, CARR means RSS.
CARR means using free-text database managers (askSam, Magellan) to control and contain found information. CARR means spreadsheet manipulation of data (Lotus, QuattroPro, Excel). CARR means using flatfile/relational database manager programs such as Paradox, Visual FoxPro, Visual dBASE, Access, even PC-File. CARR means using statistical packages such as SPSS and SAS to wade through government data and number-crunching. CARR means using GIS mapping programs such as MapInfo or AtlasGIS. But, in every case, CARR is "computer-ASSISTED reporting". It is not an end in itself. Stories must still be written: the computer file is just another "source" of data.
Any reporter can use the Internet to gather or fish for story ideas, use a spreadsheet to analyze a budget or campaign contributions, create a database of criminal actions to analyze crime patterns, or any of 50 ideas as suggested by Carol Napolitano (see below). As many reporters have suggested, the question really is how hard or difficult it may be to gather information, whether it is in paper form, electronic media, or not available at all. Jennifer LeFleur said it best: "Start with the story, not the data." So: let's go for a ride in our car-carr...