Another tool for reporters
I came across this journalistic tip searching Google… no surprise.
Search engines like Google have long been a journalist’s best friend. Not only do we use these algorithm-powered web crawlers to help research issues and people, we’ve started using more advanced search features to get the jump on our journalistic competition.
For example, reporters were quick to take advantage of tools like Google Alerts, which alerts you whenever new content is posted that matches search terms you’ve previously input. For example, I’m alerted by email when content is posted using key words and phrases like ‘digital journalism’ or ‘new media reporter.’
But here’s a new tool to add to your online toolbox.
Web analytics, which we normally use to track visitors to our websites, can also search out potential stories. Chris and Laura Amico, who run the crime news website Homicide Watch D.C., rely on analytics to scoop the competition on previously unreported murders in Washington, D.C. What they do is run analytics to find out what search terms are being used by visitors to get to their site. Then they compare those search terms to their website content. If a search term doesn’t match up to the content, they assume visitors are searching for information on an unreported homicide.
Next they search the web using those terms. If they get a hit it’s often on Facebook and Twitter, where people are quick to post digital memorials and inform family and friends of the bad news. The Amicos call their technique online shoe-leather reporting because they’re listening to what people are chatting about.
To learn more about digital journalism, enrol in the New Media Journalism Certificate program offered by Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies. Click here to register for a June 23 information session on the program.