Research tools for journalists nona 2010


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An introduction to 10 of the best online research tools available for journalists and researchers

Research tools for journalists nona 2010

  1. 1. 10 of the Best Online Research Tools for journalists - Norwegian Online News Association 2010 An introduction to a few intermediate and advanced research tools
  2. 2. Colin Meek is Consulting Editor to He has delivered scheduled and in-house courses in Advanced Online Research to journalists, policy analysts and market researchers for five years. In-house clients have included: Oxford Analytica, Channel 4 (UK), Cornwall Energy, Verdens Gang (VG Norway), RPSGB and others For more information see:
  3. 3. Avoid confusion Image licensed under creative commons:
  4. 4. 1: Google’s ‘advanced operators’ ... used to pin-point results that normal search strategies can’t reach You can use Google’s ‘advanced’ search form, but, used correctly, operators can cut to the chase faster, giving you better and more focused results
  5. 5. Precision Surfing using google’s advanced operators • Use advanced operators for more precision and flexibility. • Type them directly into the google search field • Command google to look only: • at specific sites; • for specific document types; or, • for search terms in specific places.
  6. 6. Look at this search string: business opportunities “london olympics” ~advice • restricts the search to ‘.com’ websites only. • ~advice searches for synonyms of advice such as ‘help’ or ‘guide’ • “london olympics” acts as a phrase search
  7. 7. • focused results • from relevant agencies and companies
  8. 8. • Combine advanced operators with key search terms to craft precise search strings. • Sometimes called ‘forensic surfing’
  9. 9. Combine operators for powerful search Looking for case studies from official sources of swine flu outbreaks in UK schools: “swine flu * schools” ~outbreak Here, the asterisk acts as a wildcard for words between ‘swine flu’ and ‘schools’
  10. 10. Cases identifed in first page of results...
  11. 11. You can be creative with search terms in your area of interest For example: “strictly confidential” filetype:doc staffing ~reductions
  12. 12. • focused leads • worth exploring further
  13. 13. For a full description of google’s advanced operators see:
  14. 14. 2: Google’s Timeline Tool Instantly get a story in context and hunt down historical information on trending topics Do a normal search - Go to ‘more options’ - Select ‘Timeline’ - Select date range.
  15. 15. Drill down to reveal peaks in news interest
  16. 16. And access news coverage from those dates.
  17. 17. 3: Add ‘database’ to your key-word search term If you are doing a story on any subject and you think a publicly accessible database (or official database) may exist - add the word ‘database’ to a relevant keyword search For example, if you are doing a story on anti-depressant medication in Norway? Use this term in your search engine: norway prescription database
  18. 18. That search returns the Norwegian Prescription Database as the first hit where you can interrogate prescription records For more on the ‘hidden’ or ‘invisible’ web:
  19. 19. 4: Tweetdeck Tweetdeck is an extraordinarily powerful tool that lets you monitor changing Twitter content in real-time Download it free from
  20. 20. The respected web research blogger Phil Bradley on this month’s Mexican Earthquake: Two hours after eye witness accounts started to appear - BBC News site had still failed to mention the earthquake...
  21. 21. Phil Bradley: There really wasn't any doubt in my mind that Twitter is THE first place for news stories... but the amount, the richness and variety of information is becoming quite astonishing. The only thing that surprises the inability of the traditional news media to keep up to date with what's going on. And you know what - they can't. Because they can't be everywhere, in the way that Twitter is. Me: But, the next best thing to being everywhere, is to monitor the Web - including Twitter - effectively.
  22. 22. Create unique lists of twitter users to track subjects and news items.
  23. 23. Add search “columns” to track posts on specific terms. From the same interface: Monitor specific users. Message specific users. Turn posts into emails.
  24. 24. 5: Use RSS to filter feeds Stop hunting for news that you can monitor automatically. Configure tools correctly so your sources come to you.
  25. 25. Choose a RSS reader that lets you set up smart feeds to filter your subscriptions.. Which lets you set rules for which posts are included If you do this well, and stay focused, you don’t have to scroll through dozens or even hundreds of blog posts.
  26. 26. 6:Evernote Lets you........... Store web pages - clip them - annotate - store pictures - create notes -share them - file them - and much more
  27. 27. With an easy ‘webclipper’ button you can use directly from your browser Everything is searchable, including handwritten notes and images. And your whole file of information is synced between your desktop computer and Evernote online
  28. 28. 7: Interclue The browser plugin that lets you links; saving you from opening endless windows. It also lets you: - save or email the snapshot of the page and gives you additional data about the link.
  29. 29. An Interclue pop-up from a BBC news page letting you read the whole of a linked news story. For more on improving your browser:
  30. 30. 8: Google’s Cache Google’s Cache is an under-used tool that lets you: - look back in time to when the page was last indexed by Google; - lets you browse suspect sites anonymously; and, - can enable you to bypass site subscription fees.
  31. 31. Google’s cache of a page from the ‘Stormfront’ site
  32. 32. 9: Collecta One of the best new wave of real-time search engines that lets you monitor updating web content.
  33. 33. 10: Yahoo Pipes
  34. 34. Here is a simple example that demonstrates the power of Pipes: Here I created a pipe that extracts stories from official RSS feeds that contain one of the following terms: ‘swine flu’ ‘h1n1’ ‘mrsa’ ‘norovirus’. It also converts a normal Google search into the RSS feed.
  35. 35. This pipe was created to track a brand mentioned in social media sites.
  36. 36. For more information on how to use Pipes: for a video demo and..., or for more advanced options. Lots of other guides exist online