I think I see where local and national TV newscasts may be headed — to a customizable newscast on a tablet. Although it’s been around for nearly two years, I just discovered Watchup.
This tablet app, designed by European journalist Adriano Farano, pulls stories from many legacy media orgs such as CNN, AP, Univision, PBS and WSJ, among others. It starts playing when it loads but you can tap and play from a menu, plus it is searchable by topic –source or topic business, tech, politics, entertainment, humor ideas, sports– or by source. And you can customize it to your preferences.
Watchup includes hard news as well as those on the softer side. Today I looked at stories ranging from a Wall Street Journal video on the Malaysian plane search to an ABC story on the Oscar Pistorius trial to a NYTimes feature on heirloom jewelry.
As you see below, the app runs one video nearly full screen but gives a ribbon of screen shots of other stories across the top. You can see the source (bottom left), vote on what you like or forward on email, twitter, or text (bottom right).
Here is what Watchup looks like on an Ipad.
Tech Crunch says the app just got an injestion of $1 million from sources including Microsoft Venture. The Nieman Journalism lab called it a “Hulu for news junkies” and it won a Knight News Challenge two years ago — where have I been that I missed this.
Leave a comment below about what news apps you couldn’t live without?
Capturing the eyes of young women professionals and delivering the news — that’s the goal of a new daily newsletter, The Skimm. Right now it only comes in email. I was turned on to it by one of my students.
It’s an edgy missive, with quips and wit, which doesn’t follow traditional journalism formats but has news at its heart. The business news website Fast company says behind The Skimm are two 20-somethings who produced at NBC News, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg. They got the idea for the newsletter after repeated queries from their women friends about what was in the news, and how to sound like they knew what was going on because they were too busy to keep up.
Here’s a sample posting:
- WHAT TO SAY WHEN YOU’RE ASKED TO TAKE A SURVEY…
- Usually, I’d say no but you never know what could happen. That’s the idea right now in Turkey, where local elections just took place. Normally local elections aren’t the most exciting events, but the stakes in yesterday’s election were pretty high. The elections were a big test for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has ruled for more than a decade and is battling corruption allegations and security leaks, and his party. According to preliminary results, Erdogan’s party came out on top. Erdogan, who has been feeling out a run for president, celebrated by vowing to pursue the “traitors” who have accused him of corruption. Yippee.
I like it. Just waiting for the app to come out. What do you think? And what news ways of getting news are you using? Feel free to comment below.
In the last post, I talked about finding people through public records. What about finding data in public records or knowing what available in databases?
When you are in a crunch in a breaking news story or when you need statistics or information to beef up a story — to give you the edge — do you know where to go to find information in public databases. If you’re already scouted some out or have links bookmarked, you will be so grateful when you need info in a pinch.
One place that probably has a lot of info is your state government. It might be worth an hour one day to go figure out what is available online. New York is a model in having recently put a lot of content online via one portal, Open New York. It also includes some local and federal data, as well. Take a peek and marvel.
To find out where online databases exist in your state:
- check out links from a list compiled by the American Library Association Government Documents Roundtable
- try searching on line by topic at a goverment website using the formula: “topic or subject” site:gov Fill in the topic or the subject and put in your state’s domain if you know, such as “retail food stores” map site:ny.gov This will search for maps of retail food stores, but only on New York State government websites
- call your state’s secretary of state office or attorney general office.
And if you know of other masters sites for state data, let me know below.
Public records have a lot of information about people, as well as records. Here are 5 tips for ferreting out people through government records:
1. Get the county or region’s pet registry. People who won’t give their names or addresses to anyone will always want their lost pet returned and will register it.
2. If the person is politically active, check state campaign finance reports or the federal reports at Open Secrets or the FEC. Occupations and addresses are usually listed.
3. Many governments put property tax or real estate information online. I regularly do an exercise with my students to find my home address, spouse’s name and the type of home in which I live.
4. Pipl aggregates a lot of data on the web and says it searches “the deep web.” It’s a long shot, and avoid the sponsored links at the top, but sometimes it can prove helpful. Obviously, it’s best for people who have an online presence.
5. If you are tracking a top person at a company whose stock is publicly-traded, check out the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Edgar database. It gives info on the company but also compensation for top executives.
Get your new year off to a good start with a new plan for how to diversify your sources. Here are 5 tips:
1. Need a real person, not an official? Someone who is “living” the story you are doing? If your story related to a location or venue, here’s a wild idea: Check Foursquare, the venue-based social media app. The person who checks in the most at a venue is called the “mayor.” He or she probably knows a lot about what goes on there. The mayor often has a psuedonym, but check the mayor’s links to twitter or facebook and you can often figure out who the person is.
2. Check directories at governmental offices. See if your city or county has a phone directory on line. Or sometimes departments have them linked off their websites. For federal employees, check this US Government directory
3. Many professionals must be licensed and states often publish licensing databases online. Check your state to see if it has a directory like New York does. Also consider Findlaw, a directory for lawyers or the AMA’s Doctor Finder.
4. When you need an expert in a particular field, check out Julian Sher’s fabulous list of lists of experts. Especially if you work web or radio, you don’t necessarily have to have a local source.
5. Many people, especially newsmakers, still have landline phones. Remember you can find any published numbers in online phonebooks such as White Pages or Anywho. For international numbers, try Infobel or Numberway
One of our recent alums, a new TV reporter, emailed me recently asking for my handouts and tips on finding stories. She’s struggling to come up with a couple pitches each day. I think it’s one of the hardest parts of the job. So here’s 5 tips:
- Meet sources. Take 30 minutes a week to meet with someone to develop contacts. If you put it in your calendar, just like exercise or that dentist appointment, it will happen. You can probably spare 45 minutes (including travel) and the cost of two cups of coffee. Stories come from people. That’s my #1 tip. And if that’s too much, alternate — every other week call three people to schmooze in the 45 minute time period.
- Follow ups. Check your station archives or the library’s database for the local newspaper (or even a national one) and see what was big news 6 months ago and one year ago. There’s probably a follow-up there.
- Note dates. When you cover a story and know there is a “next step” mark that date — be disciplined. Always write it on a reminder list, calendar or to-do list. Have a system that’s easy and works for you. Or see something on air or in the local paper that tells of an upcoming event, i.e. trial date, decision due, report out, then mark that down, too.
- Borrow good ideas. Go online to other station/newspaper websites in your region. Then pick some for cities the same size as yours. What are they reporting. Probably a story where you are, as well.
- Read specialty pubs and sites. Each week pick a different area/topic and read some specialty magazine, website or publication. For example, The Packer (agriculture/food) consumerman.com, or Jet Magazine
Email me at readyreporter<at>syr.edu with other good story-finding tips, or leave a comment below.