Wayback Machine Helps Reporters Sleuth Out Information

Last week when federal authorities raided the Indianapolis-area home of Jared Fogle, WFYI-FM’s reporter Ryan Delaney immediately scrambled to get reaction.

Fogel, the spokesperson for Subway, gained fame for losing more than 200 pounds by eating the chain’s low-fat sandwiches. While Ryan knew officials hadn’t charged Fogle with anything, a few months earlier they arrested the executive director of Fogel’s foundation on child pornography charges.

waybackmachinelogoSo Fyanset out to talk to someone at the foundation, whose work focuses on awareness of  childhood obesity. He went first to the foundation website to get contact information, but it was down. So he navigated to the Internet Archive, commonly known as the Wayback Machine, which catalogs billions of webpages.

Even though no one answered at the foundation, Ryan told readers in his story that he had tried:Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.39.33 AMWhile this Internet search trick didn’t net much for this story, Ryansaid he has used it before with success. When he was reporting on a New York attorney general’s

WFYI's Ryan Delaney

WFYI’s Ryan Delaney

investigation into ties between a medical management company and a state-owned hospital in Syracuse, he used Wayback Machine to find snapshots of archived web pages of the hospital.  They included bios of several  hospital employees that noted they worked for the medical management company. That information was scrubbed from their bios on the current website.

So Wayback Machine can be a helpful tool for reporters who want to see what content on a previous version of a website. For more information on the Wayback Machine (note that it is slow to load), see this previous post.

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