Something old, something new

You can find me in the library

Tomorrow, we will talk about some ways to find information fast. I was hoping to be able to recommend to you the Poynter Institute‘s “Places To Go To Find News Fast,” but it is a bit outdated. Still, it’s probably worth exploring. So is Scott Swafford’s cheat sheet for public life and public safety reporters (and all of us do a bit of that from time to time). I have my own particular favorites and “tricks” for tracking down information.

For example, I love ZabaSearch for finding people’s phone numbers because the listings often include the month and year of birth of the person you’re trying to find. And that makes it easy to narrow the search. But then, I also think the good old phone book (you know, that paper thing sitting around on the desks in the newsroom) is surprisingly useful.

There are some great new and old tools in your midst. I hope Google makes good on its promise to create a site just for journalists. At least that’s what this guy, Jake Parrillo, said when he came and visited us last spring. (Please don’t go look up his blog and drive up his numbers; he hasn’t responded to my emails, and that’s just not right.) For now, you might want to check out the Journalist’s Toolbox, which is also a little outdated but contains some killer stuff.

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9 Responses to Something old, something new

  1. jenapoian says:

    I’m very excited to use ZabaSearch because of the month and year of birth feature. It comes in handy when writing obits.

    The last obit I wrote was about a man with a very common name, so “Mary Smith” listed three or so numbers. Imagine having to call a very dandy Mary Smith to ask her if her Grandpa John Smith just passed away. What a debbie downer moment.

    Because the funeral homes release the relationships with the deceased, you can infer the ages of a sister, grandchild, etc. So, using a month and date of birth feature is very exciting. That way I’m not startling any more poor people and talking to the right people, saving time so I can write a better life story.

  2. Mallory Benedict says:

    In the past, I’ve used google alerts, and still do, for on-going research. it won’t really get you news quickly, but it helps you keep tabs on a topic for an extended period of time. Also, for topics that are really hard to find news about at all, google alerts finds them anyway because it recognizes the tags.

  3. Gianna Volpe says: is important for everything from real-time 911 fire and rescue dispatching
    (The items in red are the ones currently in progress)

    The site also has city council (as well as other committees) minutes and agendas, city employees’ contact informations, and an events calender.

    Anne taught me about a great website for looking up county records:

    I also try to peruse, which is a great tool for keeping up with/discovering new sources/stories. The content is generated by community members, so it’s great to check out every now and then.

  4. Hilary says:

    I really love It’s a website search engine that allows you to search blogs and is great for sourcing. Though it may not put you in contact with local sources all of the time, it’s great for larger-scale reporting. Since most blogs include contact information, you can usually find an email to get in touch with someone through this site. It’s pretty great!

  5. hml42c says:

    I really like It’s an internet search engine that searches blogs, which is great for sourcing. Though it might not always lead you to local sources, it can put you in touch with out-of-town bloggers about a specific subject and, since blogs usually include contact information like an email address, it can help with interviewing (even if it has to be via email or over the phone).

  6. Tracy says:

    Here’s a very cool site for ideas about how to present data:

  7. Caitlin Wherley says:

    On my first day at the Missourian, I used ZabaSearch for the first time. I was writing an obit, and it definitely came in handy when I was looking for survivors. It’s so much easier to use than other phone number search engines: it includes the city/town that the number is located in, which was great. It gave me the information I needed so I wasn’t calling 100 wrong numbers. And it’s free. We’re in college, who doesn’t like free stuff?

  8. sakitu says:

    Not sure if anyone else has heard of this site– It’s supposed to connect reporters with sources they may not otherwise be able to reach. Of course, the sources have to sign up too, so if you’re looking for a specific person, best to just contact them directly. I haven’t used HARO myself, but I’ve heard good things about it, and maybe it will come in handy for someone.

  9. I really enjoyed this lecture. I started playing around on the interactive neighborhood associations map, and I was able to call most of the contacts I found through this site and received some dates for possible story ideas.

    The city directory also seems like it will be one of the most useful search tools while in the newsroom, so I am glad that the lecture reminded us of the best ways to find people and information.

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