Mar 12

How to find twitter accounts of media

You are working on a story that tracks to another market.  You’d like to know what the media in that location are reporting, so you can stay on top of the story.  A quick way to do that is to follow the twitter feeds of media there.

To find those twitter names, check out Sergio Chapa’s tvontwitter.  You can search by city, state, market size, call letters or network.

I was delighted to stumble across this site one day. Sergio, now the interactive manager at, the online sister to KGBT-TV, Harlingen, Tex, started it in 2008.

“I wanted to create a focal point for people interested in social media to connect with media outlets on Twitter,” Sergio said, noting that he does this as a hobby in his off-hours.

What a labor of love! You can follow the project  at tvontwiter (and yes it’s just one ‘t’). Sergio also runs  radio on twitter,  and newspapers on twitter, though the lists are not as complete.  He says he hopes to broaden it to media  outside the States.

If you need a news organization  not on his list but know the name, or can guess,  you can search for it on twitter’s search page, or use this handy formula in any browser search:                           keyword   example:  Post Standard

And I bet Sergio would love for you to let him know so he can add it to his list.



Posted in Continuing Coverage, Finding Stories | Leave a comment
Mar 09

Quick way to dash off a FOI request

Need the goods tucked in some government document? Or wonder if there is something in someone’s file cabinet or computer archive that will explain what’s going on? Busy reporters have little time to draft and produce freedom of information requests which can pry out that information. Sometimes it seems too much work.

But FOI requests are many times the key that unlocks great enterprise stories.  So here’s a quick tip. The Student Press Law Center has a handy letter-generator for every state. You just fill in the blanks and print your letter.

Okay, you say, what about federal records?  Click your way over to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and use its letter generator.

Both are great time savers. What if you did one a week? It’s a start at several potential stories.

And it’s just about Sunshine Week, the annual observance of open government,  so what better reminder do we need?

Posted in Backgrounding for News Stories, Finding Stories | Leave a comment
Mar 07

Check that AP style: here’s help for politics

You’re writing stories today about Super Tuesday.  And is it Super PAC or super PAC?  AP style calls for the latter.

Well, it’s been, hm, how many years since I had my last AP style quiz in college. Okay, I don’t want to say. And many of us on the broadcast side, who have spent so many years writing for the eye (radio and television) could use a refresher now that we are filing digital stories as well.

Check out this AP advisory for the correct style on political terms.  For example, I’d forgotten, if I ever knew, that first lady is not capitalized, it’s not a title.  We are to capitalize legislature when it comes after a state and thereafter.  It’s fundraiser but front-runner. 

The one I really don’t like is congressman and congresswoman. I think it is important that news organizations model non-sexist terms so I have my students use congressmember.

What difference does it make if you don’t get the capitalization right? As I tell my students, inconsistencies undermine credibility.

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Feb 29

New York Times + API + FEC = helpful election coverage

When I grow up I want to be a CAR journalist, one who knows  several methods of computer-assisted reporting and how to mine data for great stories. One of the newest uses that impresses me is what the New York Times is doing by getting an API from the Federal Election Commission and updating its Election Spending Totals section daily.

Now frankly, I don’t understand all of what the developers explain about how they do this, but I’m impressed that they are transparent in how they do this. What I can understand is the final result, a daily update of which candidate is getting what money. See the graphic at the left,  a snapshot from February 29.

The blog, 10,000 Words blog has a helpful explanation of how this works, but for true geeks this New York Times developer network page explains the campaign finance API.  Again, it’s beyond me but I admire those who understand it and translate it into meaningful information for the rest of us.

Just proves again to me the important role journalists have in a democracy!

Posted in Databases | Leave a comment
Feb 22

Find when to tweet to reach most of your followers

I love this new service I just learned about from @journtoolbox, Tweriod. It will tell you when most of your followers are online so you know best when to tweet.  Seems this is great inside information for news organizations and journalists.

I was surprised that most people following @readyreporter are reading between 5 p.m., 7 p.m.  and 9 p.m.. The graph at the left shows the pattern for weekdays.

So much for my sending out the tweets early in the morning. My followers may not skim back that far to see them. I’ll be doing more in the afternoon.

It gives you an analysis for weekends, Sundays, Mondays, and weekdays.

So you go to Tweriod’s website and give it permission to access your twitter account. It looks at your tweets and your followers and will send you back a report by email about the best times to post messages.  The time til you get the message depends on how many followers you have.

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Feb 16

How to debunk photos

The death of Whitney Houston reminded me of the times I’ve seen supposed photos of a dead celebrity or gotten an email saying “see this terrorist bloodied and battered.” And they turn about to be hoaxes.

Here’s a couple ways you can check out photos to see if they are for real. is great (see Sept. 12 post) , as you can see all the online locations and perhaps adaptations of that photo.

I just learned in reading a post from a Brit, Paul Bradshaw, @paulbradshaw, on Online Journalism Blog,  that Google has a search-by-image option which works similarly. You can check out an image from the web or your own computer to see where else it appears. You can even find related photos. Plus there’s a Chrome and  Firefox extension.

Check out this video to see how it works or read about it here. I’m still playing with these — let me know below if they work for you.


Posted in Searching | Leave a comment
Feb 08

Help for sportscasters in searching twitter

Following up on yesterday’s post here is more help for sportscasters tracking the buzz.

 Find out what’s being talked about the local team, coach or players on Twitter. Twitter advanced search can be filtered now in many ways.  I just came across this list of search operators,  a list which pops up if you click the word “operators” under the search box.

We’ve got the #2 ranked college basketball team here at Syracuse Univeristy so, for example, if I want to see what people are saying on blogs about Coach Jim Boeheim, I would type into twitter’s search:

Jim Boeheim near:Syracuse within:30mi

That looks for posts containing the characters “Jim Boeheim”  from people located within 30 miles of Syracuse . Here’s one that came up:

This post from local media anchor Lisa Spitz, @LisaSpitzNews, would tip someone who didn’t know this interesting tidbit:  Boeheim was the resident adviser in the dorm when Giants coach Tom Coughlin was a student at SU.

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Feb 07

Help for sportscasters searching news about college sports team, player or coach

As college basketball season heats up, you may be looking for more stories about the area team. One way to keep your finger on the pulse of discussion out there is to search blogs.

BLOGS: Technorati is a search engine for blogs. You can search by the name in a blog title, or better yet, search for blog posts (just click the right term next to the search box).

Remember to put a name in quotes, such as “John Calipari.” When I search that term I find a number of mentions on a blog called “Bleacher Report.”

It calls itself an independent sports site, and Technorati gives it an authority score of 742 (on a 1000 point max scale).  You can read more about how the score is compiled, but its based on the site’s influence and standing, showing this one is pretty good.

If you have a little more time, try some key words in Globe of Blogs or look there for blogs in your location about which you may not be familiar.

Check back tomorrow for some great ways to filter tweets to pull up ones about your team or coach.

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Jan 31

Can’t find that tweet?

You saw something on your twitter feed and want to go back to it, but can’t find it, right?

Twitter’s search is helpful for  recent tweets. It’s changed its address in the last year. Point your browser to, not And I always recommend you check out the Advanced Search page to refine your search.

Twitter doesn’t keep a master archive going back to its beginning. I’m not sure anyone does.

But for older tweets, try  In its Guide for Newsrooms, @twitter itself mentions Topsy, with this euphemism, “Topsy allows you to find non-real-time Twitter content for background on bigger stories.”

And by the way, check out that Guide for Newsrooms — you just might pick up another trick or two. And if you are a twitter fiend, check out this “Nine Things You Didn’t Know about Twitter” from a recent New York Times.

I’m always looking for other ideas to share, so leave a comment below of a trick or tip that’s helped you in using online resources for stories.

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Jan 18

There’s more than Wikipedia for reference

Okay so Wikipedia is temporary down today — What do you do?  While  Wikipedia can be a good pointer to information, you likely know that it isn’t always reputable and has sometimes had some bogus information.  So, as with all sources, knowing how to use it, is the key.

But since it is down temporarily today as a protest, here are some other options for reference material:

  •  Infoplease offers an atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary and topical information. Part of the Pearson family of educational resources, it says that it started, interesting,   in the 30s as a popular radio quiz show, then became an almanac and went online in the 90s.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica has several references — the 21st Century Webster’s Family Encyclopedia, as well as a series or articles and even the  1911 Encyclopedia Britannica with updates.
  • is somewhat like Wikipedia in that it has a community of volunteers who provide answers. Some are experts, some perhaps not so.  So you should always double or triple source info from here. You ask a question and it checks either its references (what it calls its “encyclodictionalmanacapedia”) or you can asks its WikiAnswers where its volunteer researchers will chime in to help.
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