online newsgathering lecture links
Some links, notes and usefulness to accompany a lecture about online newsgathering for the 2011 summer school at the Centre for Investigative Journalism at City University in London on July 17th 2011.
There are two key things to keep an eye on when using Google for search. Firstly, when you do a bog standard search, look down the left hand column, click the ‘more’ and ‘more search tools’ buttons. The options you find there will allow you to target your search far more effectively than a straight Google search.
For example, try searching using News only, then click the sort by date order button at the bottom of the left hand column. This will give you the latest articles - only from news sources - with the most recent appearing at the top of the search results. Try searching blogs and discussions too.
In addition, always use Google Advanced Search to fine tune your search using the ‘exact phrase’ option, domain search, date options and more.
If you are unfamiliar with using Google Advanced Search, play with it and learn how best to find what you’re after. Think laterally. Think about where you would expect to find what you’re looking for and in what format. Would it appear in a pdf or an excel spreadsheet? In which case use the file format search options. Are you trying to track down a phone number? Think about adding “tel:” to the end of your search. Think of phrases and words associated with what you’re looking for and add them to Google Advanced Search.
RSS - Really Simple Syndication - is a powerful way of subscribing to websites and search keywords to receive only the information you are interested in comes to you. This video will give you a simple overview into how RSS works.
You can use RSS to subscribe to the sections of news sites and blogs you are interested in. More importantly, you can subscribe to keywords, names of people, places, companies and phrases you need to monitor.
Google Reader is just one of many RSS readers available. Once you have subscribed to a number of keyword and key phrase searches within Google News and other sources, the Reader will become your hub for news. This video will help explain how it works.
Aggregators bring content from multiple sources into one place. Google News is a news aggregator. It pulls together 25,000 or so news sources. So is the recently launched Huffington Post UK and NewsNow which pools some 20,000 or more news sources. SiloBreaker is worth a look. It not only aggregates, but attempts to context and analysis. Lastly, Addictomatic is an interesting way of bringing multiple searches into one place.
Since it’s launch on July 15th 2006, Twitter has evolved into an entirely new news platform. When news breaks, it often breaks first on Twitter. However, twitter.com is not always the best close to search Twitter, to tweet from, or get the most out of the service. Here are some tools to explore:
- Tweetdeck - a free downloadable application that allows you to run forward searches on keywords, hashtags and the like. Hootsuite and Seesmic are good alternatives.
- Topsy - a real time search engine. Allows you to look back over 30 days, search tweets with only photos or video and find ‘experts’.
- Bing Social - similar, but less configurable than Topsy. Shows you top links being shared on Twitter when you run a search.
- Trendsmap - plots trending on a map, shows you who is tweeting what from where and what’s popular and where it’s popular.
- Kurrently - a simple real time search engine that searches Twitter and public Facebook Status updates.
- Twitter Advanced Search - highly configurable, if somewhat clunky, search engine. Allows you to specify location, time and even positive or negative attitudes.
- If you want to explore Twitter further, there are more tools listed over here.
This is for those with a bit of RSS experience already. With Yahoo Pipes you can wire up multiple RSS feeds and filter, sort, truncate and manipulate in multiple ways to deliver a single RSS feed of stuff you want. This is a very powerful tool, best used for filtering large amounts of information. I do find the resulting RSS feed is delivered quite a bit slower than a straight RSS feed, but for complex RSS jobs - Yahoo Pipes is the tool.
In addition, you can search Yahoo Pipes for public pipes. You can then clone and adapt them for your own use. Here’s one I created earlier, run a search in it and see what you find.
I use Diigo and Delicious social bookmarking tools to store news stories and send a newswire to kigaliwire, my news and photography site in Rwanda. It’s like having a filing cabinet of all your research stored online, easily navigable so long as you use tags. A huge time and space saver.
Stay up to date
Online tools and services come and go. It’s important to keep abreast of new tools that can make your job of journalism more efficient. Two places you might want to keep an eye on for new tools are the Mashable blog and take a look through the regularly updated Social Media Kitbag.