"Oh, The Places Journalists Should Go"
The Poynter Institute
Journalists must develop an "online state of mind." It is not enough to know where to find
information, you must also set high standards for only using information from reliable,
What are your standards for using material you find on the web?
How do you advocate for training your staff to learn how to use the Internet?
How could you encourage "internal experts" on your staff to teach others?
How do you reward people who are willing to share their best information,
sources, and sites?
How easy is it for journalists in your organization to access the web?
How easy is it to capture and use information you find (especially for television)?
How do you manage up your bosses who most likely do not know as much as you
(or your staff) about using online resources?
One of the best ways to, a) teach others to use the net and, b) manage up, is by using this
resource daily, hourly to improve your journalism. Here are some useful tools.
Daily story ideas-posted by 7:30am Monday-Friday-Al’s Morning Meeting
Useful Search Tools for Journalists
The motherload of news contacts-almanacs, maps, newspapers, airline schedules, wires, search
engines, photos, you name it. This is an assignment desk's dream- www.assignmenteditor.com
This site gets my vote as the single best site for journalists on the web. They recently added a
section for breaking news, where as soon as a big story breaks, they begin adding specific links
that will help guide your coverage. You might consider this one to be your default page.
1stHeadlines.com-a close second in the category of best journalism site.
http://www.1stheadlines.com is a fast and easy to load site that summarizes the leading
headlines for hundreds of newspapers and online news sites around the world.
Look at information on any publicly traded company by using 10K Wizard.
http://10kwizard.com/ . Also, a great place to learn about executive compensation, lawsuits and
inside trading since all of that is disclosed in SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission)
Who owns your state lawmakers, what conflicts do state lawmakers have with the
legislation they are considering or agencies they regulate?
See a state by state map to check the actual filings lawmakers must file to disclose a conflict of
interest. Many states require net worth statements too. http://www.50statesonline.org/cgi-
The 50-state project by the Center for Public Integrity, a watchdog group:
http://www.50statesonline.org/ A two-year investigation found startling conflicts of interest and
other flaws in the system of state government, affecting policy decisions on everything from
education to nuclear waste, taxes to health care
May We Tape? A state by state listing of laws about how and when it is legal for you to tape a
phone conversation or an undercover conversation from Reporters Committee for Freedom of the
Juvenile Court laws-a state by state guide: http://www.rcfp.org/juvcts/index.html
What are your rights as a reporter to get into public places and/or private places
Cost of Living Calculator. Uses the Consumer Price Index and is useful in comparing budgets,
income, spending from one year to another. http://www.newsengin.com/neFreeTools.nsf/CPIcalc
Online Conversion – tons of other calculators http://www.onlineconversion.com
Everything from distance to weights and measurements to wind chill.
Try this site for calculating percentages- (what is _% of __.)
More help figuring percentages. http://www.kricar.com/tools/perc.html
Automatically converts numbers to Roman Numerals
Driving distance between two cities calculator:
Calculate blood alcohol levels. All you need is weight of person, how long they drank and
how many drinks they consumed. Plug them in: http://www.onlineconversion.com/bac.htm
How old is somebody in dog years? http://www.onlineconversion.com/dogyears.htm
Is that person dead? A place to look. They also list names of people who have been
reported to be dead, but are ALIVE http://www.dpsinfo.com/dps.html
Biographies of famous people. This dictionary covers more than 28,000 notable men and
women who have shaped our world from ancient times to the present day.
Find a person in the US or Canada. http://www.anywho.com
The best national crime stats page I know of: http://crime.org/ it is a great place to find
campus crime stats, crime rates, historic data and national links.
National Criminal Justice Reference Service searches 1,500 publications.
Unravel IP addresses, host or name servers to figure out who is writing or hosting what. This
is a one-stop shopping center. http://www.networksolutions.com/cgi-bin/whois/whois
Another all purpose website search tool if you have a website name and need to know who
runs it. Also, useful if all you have is an ISP number, can trace backward to identify the user.
Very useful in decoding who is posting to a listserv or bulletin board.
2000 Statistical Abstract-including state rankings on everything from infant mortality to
average pay to number of physicians per population:
2000 City Rankings from Statistical Abstract http://www.census.gov/Press-
Covering the Census in 2001 - a guide. Snapshots and interesting trends-emailed straight to
Does it say that in the Bible? Bible Gateway searches the Bible in 6 translations. You type in
verse or type in keywords and it finds the verse. Very easy to use.
Especially useful when politicians or protestors try to quote from the Bible.
Denominational listings of major religions. http://www.toad.net/~andrews/jreldenom.html
Disaster Finder - a Who’s Who of disaster resources, from comets that could hit the earth to
how to deal with animals when you have a big fire, earthquake or hurricane. Great site.
The Exact Time-live http://www.time.gov/timezone.cgi?Eastern/s/-5/java
Addresses (snail mail and e-mail)
Zip Code lookup and address information http://www.usps.gov/ncsc
List of US Naval ships mailing addresses from the US Navy
Internet Address Finder - E-mail Directory http://www.iaf.net
area code listing, by number http://www-cse.ucsd.edu/users/bsy/area.html
Easy to find state and national links to over 1,600 searchable public records databases
Junk Science and Hoax Busters
Archeological Hoaxes: http://www.syntac.net/hoax/archforg.php
Celebrity Myths: http://www.urbanlegends.com/celebrities
Computer Virus Hoaxes: http://www.vmyths.com Learn about computer virus myths, hoaxes,
urban legends, hysteria, and the implications if you believe in them. You can also search a list
of computer virus hoaxes from A to Z.
Don't Spread That Hoax: http://www.nonprofit.net/hoax/default.htm
Famous Hoaxes: http://www.nonprofit.net/hoax/infamy.html
Hoaxes and Scares: http://www.sophos.com/virusinfo/hoaxes
Hoax Warnings: http://www.datafellows.fi/news/hoax.htm
Junk Science: http://www.junkscience.com
Myths and Legends: http://pubpages.unh.edu/%7Ecbsiren/myth.html
Science Myths: http://www.urbanlegends.com/science
Skeptic's Dictionary: http://skepdic.com
Urban Legends: http://www.snopes.com
Viruses, Worms and Trojan Horses: http://www.sarc.com/avcenter
More everyday tools
I don’t know how to get to the scene of a breaking story-go to maps.yahoo.com/py/maps.py,
type in the unknown address, click GET MAP, then click DRIVING DIRECTIONS (type in
where you are i.e. your TV station) and the site will spit out how to get to where you want to go.
Something is going on, you don’t know what it is, but need to find out fast-go to
www.infospace.com which is a people finding resource. Look under the "white pages section"
and click on REVERSE LOOKUP, scroll down to the address section and fill in the address you
heard over the scanner, where all of the action is. Click the Find button. The search will spit out
who lives at that address...but maybe you should not call there right now...Hit the "Back" button
and to REVERSE LOOKUP...this time don’t type the house number, type in the street and city
and state. The engine will send you all of the neighbors who live near the house where all of the
A Database search Motherload-http://www.reporter.org
A plane crashed in my area-I need information-quick-go to www.landings.com it helps to
identify problems with airlines and with individual planes. This powerful site will give you pilot
backgrounds, aircraft safety records, specific maintenance records of planes (if you have a tail
number) and tons of other details. Get familiar with this one-you will use it. www.faa.gov is a
helpful site too.
Here is a site I built that will help you learn how to investigate a plane crash on deadline. I was
conducting at a Scranton, Pennsylvania TV station when a charter plane crashed a few miles
from the station. This site is a minute by minute log of how we investigated that crash.
Who is Dying from what-The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality weekly report-
This is the place where reporters first learned of the AIDS virus.
Charity Check-you need to know where all the money is going-every charity that takes in
$25K has to file an I-990 form. They are the motherload of information and they are open for
your inspection. Go to your local charitable solicitations board, your secretary of state or, now,
online to see these forms. A great new site www.guidestar.com has thousands of these forms on
file. They are constantly being updated and soon will include millions of I-990 forms.
Great toolboxes for journalists - www.workingreporter.com and www.cyberpaperboy.com,
1stheadlines.com (excellent), and (my favorite) Duff Wilson's site www.seanet.com. Sites are
one-stop shops for news. Duff's site includes people finding engines.
The single best place for great stories -- www.ire.org -- Investigative Reporters and Editors
site-many free and extremely low cost government databases that have already been cleaned up.
"whatdoyahaveformetoday?" Here are some great places to find news and keep producers and
bosses happy. www.cpsc.gov is the Consumer Product Safety Commission and this is the site
where they list all of the newest recalls. This is ideal for consumer reporters.
www.eurekalert.org is a newsgroup that alerts you to the latest scientific studies often days
before they hit the wires. Often, the stories are medical in nature. The site offers phone numbers
State rankings on everything from crime rates, population, average pay, teacher pay, infant
mortality. From census http://www.census.gov/statab/www/ranks.html. Also, try Stately
Knowledge which provides essential state facts and direct links to state pages:
If you need to find a web page that has been taken off line. It might have been a screwup
or something big has happened and the site does not want to be found. try
www.google.com--click "cached" to find pages indexed-including pages that have been removed
from their website.
Ask Jeeves-www.askjeeves.com-will find answers to reference questions-uses real language
such as "who is Edward R. Murrow?" and it will spit out some sites that will tell you the
answer. A good starting point, but not as inclusive as many other sites. Contains the answers to
150 million questions.
I have to interview someone and need a bio fast-www.biography.com is the place to start,
then, for safety, check Yahoo.com and Altavista.com for general references and to see if the
person has a website, then Altavista will double check to see if that person has been in the news.
Who is influencing my Congressman? www.fec.gov run by the federal election commission.
You can search individual contributors, individual candidates or races. The actual disclosure
forms are available online. www.crp.org tracks PAC contributions by race, which helps to
understand which special interest groups influence whom. In politics, follow the money.
How to find people if all you have are names? Many great search engines require only a last
name and will search multi-million name databases to help you find the person. Here are four
good engines-each one a little different.
http://www.classmates.com-kind of an interesting site specifically for finding old friends in
school-good if you are trying to background a person.
http://www.anywho.com-general search base-also can background companies and find people by
e-mail or find e-mail of people you know.
http://www.switchboard.com-similar to above-but a little larger database.
http://www.411.com-a pay site-from $20 to $60 per search depending on the depth of the search.
Kids Health issues -updated daily- excellent and easy to use: http://www.kidshealth.org/
Also, Mayo Clinic has a daily health update with front-edge stories and trends:
I need an expert NOW-http://www.profnet.com/- 11,000 experts and professors listed by
areas of expertise, emails and phone numbers. These experts WANT to help that is why they
signed up to be on profnet.
Translate almost any language into almost any other language. If you are trying to read a
Spanish language page in English, for example, try this. http://www.systransoft.com/
www.opensecrets.org -nonprofit/non-partisan site-crunches Federal Election commission
figures to show you who is giving and receiving what from whom. Put in your zip code and find
out who is donating to the presidential campaign.
www.vote-smart.org -a nonprofit/non-partisan group- details how congressmen vote on bills and
issues. Now they are tracking platform positions taken by candidates on state and federal levels.
You can also track legislation-extremely useful site.
More than 200 tip sheets on everything from ethics to leadership to writing from The
Poynter Institute http://www.poynter.org/dj/tips/index.htm
Need to Know something about a country fast? Visit the Library of Congress Country Studies
Find any physician in the United States from AMA. http://www.ama-
Supreme Court rulings and briefs-by searchable index- http://www.law.cornell.edu/
Iping Cool tool-will call you and remind you of appointments, wakeup calls, will give you a
wakeup call and read you news headlines. You program it. http://www.iping.com
What is everybody else looking at on the web? http://www.metaspy.com you can watch what
key words other people are putting in-live. Refreshes every 15 seconds. Includes a filtered and
unfiltered version. Choose carefully, the unfiltered version is no-holds-barred and gets pretty
About.com-if you are starting from scratch on a subject and need to find out about it fast,
this is a great way to start. http://www.about.com
Great online directories resources and references
How stuff works if you need to know how a jet engine works, how people get diabetes, how
landmines work, how people pick locks, this is the place. Enter in a key word and find it
Need help on a grammar question? Strunk’s Elements of Style is online
Who said that? Bartlett’s familiar quotations-look them up by key word. Familiar Quotations
A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern
Which bone is connected to which? Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body features 1,247 vibrant
engravings—many in color—from the classic 1918 publication
Search Shakespeare The 1914 Oxford edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare
ranks among the most authoritative published this century. The 37 plays, 154 sonnets and
miscellaneous verse constitute the literary cornerstone of Western civilization. Search by word,
phrase or character http://www.bartleby.com/70/
The World Factbook Brought to you by the CIA-this is the U.S. government’s complete
geographical handbook, featuring 267 full-color maps and flags of all nations. Each country
profile tracks such demographics as population, ethnicity and literacy rates, as well as political,
geographical and economic data. http://www.bartleby.com/151/
http://www.britannica.com/ - Entire Encyclopaedia Britannica, free, all 32 volumes. Also, more
than 70 newspapers and a directory of Web links, evaluated by Britannica editors.
Direct Search by Gary Price/George Washington University -
campus crime stats from US Education Dept. http://ope.ed.gov/security/Search.asp
federal list of research projects that are using tax dollars http://www.osti.gov/fedrnd/
Newspaper archives from Special Library Association. Search newspapers by state. Some
of the archives are subscriptions, some are free.
Meta Search Engines-search more than one engine at a time.
Government search of government (fed) websites via Google.
A fantastic search engine to find pictures and sounds http://www.mamma.com/ via Lycos
network. This is my favorite place to go to find pictures of stuff.
Use 17 search engines at one time- http://freeality.com. By doing this, you hit big
chunks of the web you might not get if you only use one or two engines.
WARNING: THERE IS A LOT OF JUNK ON THE INTERNET IN ADDITION TO THE
WONDERFUL STUFF I HAVE LISTED FOR YOU. CHECK EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU