Google, Internet provide new tools for journalists

15 Feb

Some people complain that technology is bad for society. They say the Internet is going to cause us to lose our social skills over time. They say technology will be the downfall of the human race. But I think technology, especially the Internet, provides useful tools we should take advantage of to improve our lives. Especially as journalists, the Internet provides us with countless tools to help us do our jobs better. We can get information faster, spread information faster and access a larger group of people in one place. If we use these tools to our advantage, we can distinguish ourselves as individual journalists.

Google Alerts is an excellent example of journalists taking advantage of new technologies. In fact, many journalists use Google Alerts. But in the case of an article about Jim Morrison, one journalist thought outside the box when he set up his Google Alerts. Bloggers were writing to Florida’s governor, Charlie Christ, asking him to pardon Jim Morrison for an indecent exposure conviction from 1969. While most reporters had a Google Alert set up for Christ, they had it set to news only. Gary Fineout had his set to Web. His Google Alerts alerted him of the situation and he was able to move in quickly and get the story before anyone else. And in the end, it made for a really interesting story.

There are other similar tools out there available for journalists to use. Many blogging sites, like Tumblr, have tracked tags. These comb the sites for you and find any posts containing your key words, or tracked tags. Social networking sites are hotbeds of information. You still have to be careful you’re not picking up rumors, but these sites are great sources of information and people. Though most journalists are on Twitter and  Google+, there are plenty of other untapped resources like Instagram and Stumbleupon.

It’s important to think outside the box when you’re looking for news on the Internet. A lot of journalists have started utilizing the Internet in their work, so you need to make sure you are doing something unique. If you just have a Google Alert set up for Mitt Romney, you’ll get the news about Mitt Romney. But you won’t get it first and you’re going to get the exact same things every other journalist is getting.

So look for new social networking sites. Occasionally comb Google News for new topics. Look for new things that other journalists haven’t discovered yet and you’ll stand out as a resourceful journalist.

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