JOUR 4370 – Advanced Reporting – Spring 2005

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Reporting research tools

Internet starting places for journalists

Theoretically, you could start anywhere on the World Wide Web and find anything else on the Web if : 1) you had enough time, and 2) the Web “sat still” long enough. Neither condition prevails. Nor is news static.   Online directories and key word search engines can help journalists find what they need, when they need it, to build background information and to set stories in the proper context. Here are a few carefully selected sites designed to get you started. They are divided into four classes of Web sites: Key word search sites, general directories, specialized directories (or scouts) and journalists' hot lists.

Key word search sites

Different devices employ diverse net search strategies (robot vs. human) and offer various search refinements.

  • Alta Vista | One of the first "super search" sites. “Advanced Search” options give great contol. Good help files. Can specify search targets on the Web, images, MP3/audio files, video, news, or select a directory approach. Can select languages and get tranlations.
  • Ask Jeeves | Permits searching by asking a question
  • CUSI | One form allows search of several Web engines for documents, people, and more. Some of the target resources here may be out of date.
  • Dogpile | Web metasearches , Usenet filings, yellow pages, white pages, advanced search, tools and tips, customizable.
  • Galaxy Directory | Key word searching ,   subject -oriented browsing. Web-based Hytelnet directory.
  • Google | Has specialized searches, archives of many pages taken off the net.
  • Web Crawler | A metasearch site that pulls from several other search sites. Search areas include the Web, photos, news, yellow pages, white pages. Has advanced options, tips section, customizing features.
  • Tile.net | Does key word searching for ftp sites, mail lists, and news groups.
  • Yahoo! | Key word searching as well as subject-oriented browsing.

General directories

Directory sites or subject catalogs follow predetermined subject trees. Pick a subject—or related subjects—and browse for relevant information. Can be quick.

See Yahoo!, AltaVista & Galaxy above.

Specialized directories / Internet Scouts

Internet Scouts are people who have a passionate or vested interest and expertise in a topic. They scour the Net for the best resoueces on their topic of interest, and they publish their results for the world to see. Many of these can be located by following topic trees at such directory sites as Yahoo!

  • CFM Links | Finance, economics and investment resources from the folks at Cardinal Fund Management
  • FedStats | A gateway to statistics from more than 100 U.S. government agencies
  • Findlaw | A commercial site whose goal it is to be the last word on everything to do with the law
  • Internet Scout Project | A University of Wisconsin Web site that contains several years worth of "Scout Reports," the results of people looking for the best Web sites on any given topic
  • Landings | "Shopping Center" for all things pertaining to aviation
  • Medline | National Library of Medicine Web site providing health and medical information
  • Topica Lists | Specializes in cataloging e-mail discussion lists and newsletters. Ads can complicate your search.
  • ToughPigs.com | Danny Horn's site dedicated to everything Muppets
  • WebRing | A directory of "Web Rings", this can be helpful for finding Scout sites. But be aware standards of credibility vary widely over Web Rings.

Hot lists and other journalists' resources

These are sites where journalists have gathered—for the benefit of other journalists—lists and catalogs of links to other sites deemed useful.

  • FACSNET | A service with many original documents including backgrounders and reporting tutorials. Includes beat-oriented Internet browsing resource and database of expert sources.
  • Duff Wilson's Reporter's Desktop | Duff's Links to his best sites and favorite search places for doing stories.
  • JournalismNet | By Julian Sher : Internet tutorials and links for journalists doing investigative work, story tips, media criticism, government links, strong Canadian resources.
  • Power Reporting | Free research tools for journalists. Site created and edited by Bill Dedman.
  • Nikos Markovits' Journalistic Resources — | Links to journalism organizations, research sites, media sites, other hotlists provided by Swedish journalist.
  • National Press Club Library | Friedheim Library lists online reporting tools. Grouped on file cards labeled "who, what, when, where, why and how."
  • Makulowich's Virtual Journalism Library | Wide range of resources linked here.
  • Avi Bass's NewsPlace for News and Sources | Separate lists for media sites, for primary source material, and for Internet navigating help.
  • Scoop CyberSleuth's Internet Guide | Evansville Courier resources.
  • IRE / NICAR Resource Center | A collection of tip sheets and other documents created by reporters and editors for reporters and editors.
  • TTU Library Journalism and Broadcasting Resources | Collection of journalism Web resources, helpful sites for journalists and lists of library-housed reference resources for journalists

Other useful sites

A few “jumping off” places containing exceptionally rich resources.

  • Direct Search | Gary Price's extensive links to search interfaces – especially good for uncovering the "Hidden Web" or the "Invisible Web."
  • Government by Sterby | Extensive U.S. government links, links to other world government sites.
  • Search Engine Watch | Danny Sullivan's authoritative site on how search engines and search sites really work. Some documents require paid membership
  • Tool to Task | Site was prepared for British and European journalists several years ago and some of the links are broken, but the principles it teaches are important. Working with the Internet is older but may make the principle more clear.
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