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Journalist’s Toolbox

January 4, 2013 in Craft, Resources

Since 2004 the Toolbox has been a standard resource for reporters, editors, journalism teachers, and students. It features a rich collection of links to search tools, election coverage, First Amendment issues, jobs, education resources (high school and college), Investigative Reporters and Editors and other data/statistics sites, and links to topical issues (terrorism, floods, etc.)” Source: Barbara Iverson, Poynter

Presented by the Society of Professional Journalists and created and maintained by DePaul University instructor Mike Reilly, the Journalist’s Toolbox is an actively updated site that lists resources for reporters, editors, and academics. A sampling of the most recent additions: online grammar quizzes, a directory of all congressional Twitter handles, tips and resources on cyberbullying, an interactive map for locating newspapers, a Google Maps mashup of current sites and historical photos, a site that collects crash blossom headlines, and a thesaurus that generates short synonyms.” Source: Dawn McIlvain Stahl,

Emergency Journalism: Toolkit for better and accurate reporting

November 8, 2012 in Craft, Resources

Emergency Journalism is an initiative of the European Journalism Centre that brings together relevant news and resources for media professionals reporting in volatile situations. The website focuses on tools that use up-to-date digital technology, from content curation tools to multi-layered live maps, to support media coverage of emergencies such as natural disasters and political conflicts.

Every emergency is different, yet no matter the circumstances, there are tools that can help journalists during the newsgathering process, and when dealing with big data, limited resources and tight deadlines. Under such circumstances, accuracy, timeliness and quality content from journalists can ultimately contribute to effective relief and humanitarian response…

This website will help journalists to stay informed and updated on the topics that are related to emergency journalism in digital age.” Source: Emergency Journalism

Verify U.S. Federal Government Social Media Accounts

August 24, 2012 in Craft, Resources

There are thousands of social media accounts claiming to be associated with the federal government, but how do you know which are real? It’s relatively easy to set up a Twitter account or Facebook profile claiming government connections that aren’t real.

Officials at the General Services Administration want to to aid citizens with a new tool to allow them to find out if a given account is legit.

Available on, GSA’s Social Media Registry supports more than 20 of the most common social media platforms. Its main purpose is three-fold:

The public will be able to verify that a social media account is run by the government, or spot a fake.

The registry will help manage all these accounts governmentwide by offering application programming interfaces that allow agencies to get data about their agencies.

Finally, the registry serves as a one-stop shop that eliminates the need for different solutions for each agency.

The database is build in Ruby on Rails — an open-source web framework — and officials said the code that powers the registry is open source and available on GitHub. Officials said they teamed with industry partners such as Sunlight Labs, Code for America and Expert Labs to make the registry open and sharable…

Only accounts of official U.S. government agencies, organizations or programs will be tracked by the registry. Government employees will be able to register accounts managed by federal agencies, elected officials, members of the president’s cabinet and heads of agencies. No personal, employee or other types of social media accounts will be included.” Source: Federal Computer Week

Politifact’s Truth-O-Meter

August 24, 2012 in Craft, Resources

PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and its partners to help you find the truth in politics.

Every day, reporters and researchers from PolitiFact and its partner news organization examine statements by members of Congress, state legislators, governors, mayors, the president, cabinet secretaries, lobbyists, people who testify before Congress and anyone else who speaks up in American politics. We research their statements and then rate the accuracy on our Truth-O-Meter – True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False and False. The most ridiculous falsehoods get our lowest rating, Pants on Fire…

How the Truth-O-Meter works

The heart of PolitiFact is the Truth-O-Meter, which we use to rate factual claims.

The Truth-O-Meter is based on the concept that – especially in politics – truth is not black and white.
PolitiFact writers and editors spend considerable time researching and deliberating on our rulings. We always try to get the original statement in its full context rather than an edited form that appeared in news stories. We then divide the statement into individual claims that we check separately.

When possible, we go to original sources to verify the claims. We look for original government reports rather than news stories. We interview impartial experts.” Source: PolitiFact

You can now embed part of PolitiFact into your website. Our widgets will put the latest Truth-O-Meter and Obameter rulings on your page. They flex to fit just about any width hole you want them in. Best of all, they update dynamically, so they always contain the latest rulings.” Source: PolitiFact

Reynolds Center Beat Basics by veteran business journalists

June 27, 2012 in Craft, Education, Resources

Good business journalists look for anecdotes, or personal stories that drive home a point. The numbers we use help punctuate the anecdote. When I worked at Forbes Magazine, we would spend days trying to find the number or simple, easy-to-explain metric that best described the point we were trying to make. Was the company a rising star or a dog with fleas?

Finding that key metric could make or break the story. A metric might be something as simple as how much American Airlines saved removing an olive from every salad served to passengers. Metrics are simply a measure or yardstick. They come from good, solid reporting.

To help ease your transition, here are a few other tips…:

  • Meet the movers and shakers. Spend some time learning who the industry leaders and laggards are. Is it a mature, slow-growing industry dominated by giants or a fast-growing sector with new faces?
  • Spend some time to learn the language. Every beat has a lingo. You need to be able to speak it. Airlines measure revenue per available seat mile. Banks have net interest income. Retailers report comparable-store sales.
  • Find a mentor. Countless industry insiders, chief executives and journalists helped me establish myself as a business reporter. They taught me the ropes and gave me tips on how to navigate the terrain.
  • Develop a list of go-to experts. These are technical sources such as accountants and tax attorneys who can help you make sense of complex topics.
  • Find the followers. Read what other reporters write. But it is more important you connect with people who provide goods and services to the industry you cover – the suppliers, consultants, analysts, lawyers and investment bankers.
  • Always triple-check your numbers. I once wrote about FedEx’s new package-handling system but overlooked a glaring error. The article stated that packages whiz by at “540 feet per second.” A clever reader caught the mistake and wrote: “By my math that equates to 368 mph. Please explain to me how FedEx keeps the packages from catching fire.”
  • Remind yourself to be patient. Learning a beat takes time. Don’t expect to become an expert overnight.” Source: Covering business: An introduction

JA’s Collab/Space forum yields resources, examples and emerging practices to support journalism collaborations

May 25, 2012 in Blog, Community, Experiments, Revenue

Monkey and Dog

Together stronger, sharing complementary skills enriches collaborative partnerships.

Journalism Accelerator

One of the best parts about getting professional colleagues together to talk is that everyone brings specific resources and examples to the topic at hand. Sometimes these are familiar to you, but a colleague’s experience offers a fresh perspective. At other times, you may discover details about a resource you’d previously only vaguely heard of, or learn about something you were not aware of at all. At last month’s Collab/Space conference and during the extended conversation on the JA afterward, people offered concrete examples of successful collaborative reporting projects and pointed out tools or tips that helped them along the way. We’ve collected many of them here. Feel free to add to this shared base of knowledge. Happy collaborating!

Are you thinking about a collaborative reporting project and want some examples to show your editor? Would you like to work with an organization outside your own so your joint efforts can have a collectively bigger impact? Do you need tools to make collaborating easier?

Find ideas and inspiration in these examples, models, articles and tools that people cited in the JA conversation on collaboration and revenue.

Collaborative reporting: Story examples
Collaborative relationships: Journalism
Collaborative projects: Cross-industry or outside models
Collaborative resources: Articles and tools

Read the rest of this entry →

Mobile Security Survival Guide for Journalists

May 22, 2012 in Craft, Resources, Technology

The Mobile Security Survival Guide for Journalists helps you better understand the risks inherent in the use of mobile technology. It also discusses some tactics you can use to protect yourself. The guide covers both local journalists and those on assignment in another country. It is important for any journalists or person engaged in sensitive work to understand that mobile communications are inherently insecure and expose you to risks that are not easy to detect or overcome. This guide is designed to help you navigate these challenges.

We outline the risks and offer tips to help mitigate them. Our primary goal is to help you make better decisions about using your mobile phone while on assignment for both your professional and personal communication.

It should be noted that this guide does not guarantee your safety. Rather, it is a foundational resource for you to understand and minimize risks of mobile communication in the field.

The Mobile Security Survival Guide is written with the workflow of a journalist in mind:

  1. Mobile Network Awareness: The Basics — What does your mobile use say about you?
  2. Preparing for Assignment — Assess your digital risks and prepare your phone.
  3. Reporting/In the Field — Talking to sources and conducting interviews; checking in with your newsroom, your phone in emergency situations.
  4. Filing the Story – Sending updates, news bursts, or multimedia content from the field.
  5. BONUS! Social Media – Safer use of social media to follow news, connect with sources, share breaking stories and promote your work.” Source: SaferMobile

Reporters’ Lab: Tools, Techniques & Research for Public Affairs Reporting

February 24, 2012 in Craft, Resources, Technology

Every day, government offices from the local police department to the federal Department of Energy generate artifacts that could become vital elements in investigative and other original journalism. Even when reporters can pry those records from agency warehouses and hard drives, the stories are still hidden in hours of videos, stacks of forms and gigabytes of data housed in unfriendly formats.

More troubling, the full-time reporters who ply their trade in city halls and statehouses are disappearing,  A 2011 study by the Federal Communications Commission documented the decline of local watchdog reporting and described a resulting ‘shift in the balance of power — away from citizens, toward powerful institutions.’

Our goal at the Reporters’ Lab can be stated quite simply: Narrow the power gap by arming on-the-ground reporters with the tools, methods and techniques used by their sources and those working in better-funded disciplines. We want to build the infrastructure that will empower journalists — no matter where they are, what they cover or what job title they carry — by reducing the cost and difficulty of finding, understanding and documenting stories of public interest.” Source: Reporters’ Lab

Mobile Media Toolkit

February 8, 2012 in Craft, Distribution, Education, Resources, Technology

Mobile phones are everywhere in today’s world, and they have many applications for those in media. Most journalists already use mobiles phones, but the sheer number of tools and applications available makes it difficult to know the most effective way to use them. The proliferation of mobiles has greatly increased the number and capabilities of citizen reporters, but questions remain about the role of citizen reporting. The public is consuming more and more information on mobile phones, but media organizations need to learn how best to disseminate their content and reach out to the mobile market.

This is where the Mobile Media Toolkit comes in. There are many media projects that use mobiles effectively. There are also many tools and resources that can serve the potential needs of journalists, citizen reporters, and media organizations. The Mobile Media Toolkit is a collection of these tools and resources, as well as examples of how mobile phones can be and are being used in the media industry.The simple fact is that using mobile phones in media production isn’t always as easy as it seems.

Finding the right tool and using it correctly to reach the broadest possible audience requires knowledge of the mobile landscape. The need for guidance in the industry is apparent.

The Mobile Media Toolkit provides guidance on tools, resources, and case studies of how mobiles can be used for reporting, news broadcasting, and citizen media participation on a variety of platforms and in a variety of circumstances.” Source: Mobile Media Toolkit

Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2011-2012

February 8, 2012 in Policy, Resources

This year’s index sees many changes in the rankings, changes that reflect a year that was incredibly rich in developments, especially in the Arab world,” Reporters Without Borders said…as it released its 10th annual press freedom index. “Many media paid dearly for their coverage of democratic aspirations or opposition movements. Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes. The past year also highlighted the leading role played by netizens in producing and disseminating news…

“Crackdown was the word of the year in 2011. Never has freedom of information been so closely associated with democracy. Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much. Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous. The equation is simple: the absence or suppression of civil liberties leads necessarily to the suppression of media freedom. Dictatorships fear and ban information, especially when it may undermine them.

“This year’s index finds the same group of countries at its head, countries such as Finland, Norway and Netherlands that respect basic freedoms. This serves as a reminder that media independence can only be maintained in strong democracies and that democracy needs media freedom. It is worth noting the entry of Cape Verde and Namibia into the top twenty, two African countries where no attempts to obstruct the media were reported in 2011.” Source: Reporters Without Borders