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A Journalist's Guide to Covering Bioterrorism
Links and suggestions from the Radio-Television News Directors Association.
A tutorial on Web searching: strategy and syntax
A tutorial from Power Reporting. What's the best search engine? The one you learn to use well. Search engines can help you find information on the World Wide Web, but you'll get more chaff than wheat unless you learn general search strategies and the particular search syntax for your favorite search engine.
A new competitor to Autotrack, also offering pay-per-view public records for newsrooms. And lower prices. "Our searches are extremely cost-effective, with a person search starting at a quarter. For a full-blown comprehensive report, you will pay well under $10. There is no set-up fee, and there are no monthly minimums with Accurint. It is strictly pay-as-you-go. If your search request returns no results, there is no charge."
Adobe Acrobat Reader
The free reader for documents in Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format). A handy program called Aerial can help you extract text from a PDF file; look for the free download of a trial version; register; then look in the FTP directories for "Acrobat demos" and "AerialDemo." Also see Adobe's list of other versions of the reader. And see an excellent handout from IRE on dealing with PDF files, and converting information to plain text.
The closest competitor to Google. Now searches the full text of Adobe Acrobat's PDF files on the Web, unlike Google, which is searching only the first part of the files.
A large database and powerful syntax for narrowing your search, if you use the advanced search page. Full text of copies of more than 100 million Web pages. Con: No relevancy ranking. Did you know that AltaVista also searches Usenet newsgroups? (Though Deja.com is better.) Just change from "the Web" to "Usenet" on the search page.
Amazon book alerts
Of great use to newsrooms. The online bookseller notifies readers when books are published on subjects they're interested in, or by their favorite authors, or even with certain words in the title. Especially useful because the alerts come well before the books are published. (Registration required.)
Amazon book search
Search by author, title and/or subject. Remember to change the setting for "sort results by" to, say, "publication date." Warning: The listings can be dirty, with typos and misspellings.
American Medical Association Doctor Finder
Virtually every licensed physician in the U.S. -- more than 650,000. Search by name or broad medical specialty. (You can find pediatricians, or ophthalmologists, but not pediatric ophthalmologists.) Another limitation: You have to know the state.
A pay-per-use service, requiring your company to have an account. The most popular source in newsrooms for public records. Search addresses, driver licenses, property transfers, etc. Gets much of its info from credit headers, which include name, previous names, address, previous address, date of birth, and Social Security number. From Database Technologies, a Florida company. Offers free training.
More than 27,000 people from past to present. Better searching, less authoritative than the Biography Online Database. Search by name, year of birth or death, professions, etc. Try the "advanced search."
Biography Online Database
More than 20,000 people from the Cambridge Encyclopedia Database and the Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography.
Bookshelf on Computer-Assisted Reporting
An annotated bookshelf on computer-assisted reporting, from Power Reporting. Includes online research, public records, numeracy, and statistics.
CAR Skills Checklist
An excellent list from Jeff South of Virginia Commonwealth University. Great for figuring out what to learn next.
From the U.S. Centers for Disease Control: "an easy-to-use system that provides a single point of access to a wide variety of CDC reports, guidelines, and numeric public health data." You can register or log on as an anonymous user. Query data sets on mortality, cancer incidence, hospital discharges, AIDS, behavioral risk factors, diabetes, and many other topics.
Center for Responsive Politics
Political junkies and anyone looking into a regulatory issue will appreciate the alerts from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit with searchable databases of U.S. campaign contributions. It's easy to look up campaign contributions here, with the usual limitation that there is a time lag between the contributions and reporting by the Federal Election Commission. Staff at CRP have the most useful publications and advice on covering campaign finance, and will provide data in a hurry, sliced the way you want, for a small fee.
Chemical Health & Safety Data
Information about more than 2,000 chemicals studied by the National Toxicology Program. View a list of chemicals, or search the entire database. See synonyms, chemical formulae, physical description, volatility, flammability, toxicity, carcinogenicity, labels required, handling procedures, emergency procedures...
Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
Examines chemical accidents in the U.S. Its new Chemical Incident Reports Center gives current information on the Web about incidents worldwide: spills, fires, explosions...
"This web site offers easy access to federal and state statistics and reports on children and their families, including: population and family characteristics, economic security, health, behavior and social environment,and education." From several U.S. government agencies.
Code of Federal Regulations at LII
U.S. regulations in context, linked to the official site to stay current. From Cornell Law.
Code of Federal Regulations search
Several ways to search or browse U.S. regulations. From the Government Printing Office.
College syllabi on CAR and News Research
See the variety of CAR skills and methods in college syllabi. From Power Reporting.
Columbia Journalism Review
Darts and laurels from CJR, published on the Web, and in print six times a year, by Columbia University in New York City. (CJR is a partner of Power Reporting, this Web site.)
Columbia Journalism Review Who Owns What
Columbia Journalism Review's media ownership tracker. Focuses on the effects of consolidation.
Congressional Record Filter
Every newsroom can use this free tool to keep track of new mentions of the local Congressperson, or river, or city, or business, in the Congressional Record, the official proceedings of the U.S. Congress. Instead of searching anew at Thomas (what the Library of Congress calls its Web service, in honor of Thomas Jefferson), you can save your Thomas search queries, then check back periodically to see new items only. Allows a comprehensive search of items from 1993 to date. This is a personalized search extension of the Thomas service from the Library of Congress, provided by the University of North Carolina. The catch: You must fill out a questionnaire to play.
Cost of Living Calculator
Allows you to adjust dollar figures for inflation in the US, for any years from 1913 forward. Choose "all items" and then either a region or "U.S. city average." Note that you can adjust either from an older year to a newer year, or vice versa. From George Landau's NewsEngine. Uses the U.S. Consumer Price Index.
Lets you compare the cost of living in two U.S. or international cities. How much do you need to make in Manhattan to match your salary in Boise?
Country Profiles from Eldis
This resource, under development, will include detailed country information on agriculture, environment, economics, education, gender, politics, health, and advice for visitors. The agriculture component is the first completed, though links connect to older Eldis resources. From the Electronic Development and Environment Information System
Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
Here are 734 pages of US military terms, jargon and acronyms, in a PDF file. From "abort" to "ZULU time."
Gary Price's collection of stuff you won't find in search engines.
A "complete" index to the best disaster Web sites, searchable by keyword or category. From the NASA Solid Earth and Natural Hazards Program.
Dun and Bradstreet
Basic company briefs for free; detailed info for a fee.
Links to more than 300 sources of local and regional socioeconomic data in the U.S. A valuable resource for finding regional, state and local economic and marketing data on income, employment, housing starts and other economic statisticsstates, cities, counties and regions across the nation. Site includes a User's Guide to Socioeconomic Data for Understanding Your Regional Economy, a 100-page "complete dummies" style guide to finding and using data. Developed by Joe Cortright and Andrew Reamer, and sponsored in part by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Also offers and E-mail alert for registered users.
Economic data series from many sources, with Excel spreadsheet files of each! "This page is meant to be a comprehensive site of free, easily available economic time series data useful for economic research, in particular economic forecasting." A lot of the data are state and local employment data.
Not online anymore, down for an indefinite period of time. For further info. e-mail EdgarIQ@Inverito.com.
Electoral College calculator
A free calculator for the U.S. presidential election, in Microsoft Excel format. Plug in the votes or percentages in each state, and it calculates the electoral winner, the number of states won, and comparisons with 1996. From Power Reporting.
Encarta Concise Encyclopedia: not complete, but free!
Encyclopedia of ED Stats
Provides statistics from 1950 and projections to 2010 on issues such as student attendance, cost and quality of schools for preschool through college. Based on polls and comments by teachers this site is searchable by subject. By National Center for Education Statistics.
ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center)
The Educational Resources Information Center is a national information system providing access to an extensive body of education-related literature. It is supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, and the National Library of Education. Contains abstracts of report literature in education. First published in paper in Office of Education Reports, 1956 Š 65 and as Resources in Education (RIE), a monthly index with semiannual cumulations, from 1966 to date.
Essential Reference Books for Every News Library
A list of books that have consistently been found to be useful for U.S. news libraries. From the Special Libraries Association. With related Web links.
Evaluating Web Sites (Lake Forest)
Straightforward advice on evaluating sites, with examples. From Lake Forest College in Illinois.
Evaluating Web Sites (Maryland)
Good advice from the University of Maryland library on assessing information on the Web. Pay attention to authority and accuracy, purpose and content, currency, design, organization and ease of use. Also links to a quick checklist for evaluating Web sites. This is a good checklist for student use.
Familiar Quotations (John Bartlett, 1901)
The original, one of many great books online at Bartleby.
FBI Crime Statistics
Includes statistics on major crimes, hate crimes, terrorism and the FBI's most wanted.
Loads of data and reports on campaign finance, lobbying and soft money in the U.S. Well organized and free. Created by Tony Raymond and Kent Cooper, both formerly of the Federal Election Commission.
Federal Election Commission
Current (as current as it gets, anyway) info on U.S. campaign contributions. Some private sites offer easier electronic access.
Full-text access, up to date, to the Federal Register, the official daily publication of federal regulations: rules, proposed rules, and notices of federal agencies, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.
Federal Reserve Economic Data
FRED has economic time series on employment, money supply, interest rates, producer prices, gross domestic product, et al. From the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Federal Web Locator
A comprehensive list of federal agencies. From the Illinois Institute of Technology's Chicago-Kent College of Law.
A one-stop shop of U.S. government statistics from 70 agencies, searchable by topic. Or browse the "A to Z" list for ideas on any topic.
The Yahoo of law. Legal subject index, law schools, etc.
FindLaw Law Crawler
Excellent search engine for legal information. A service of FindLaw.
A new (September 2000) one-stop shop for U.S. government Web sites, especially broad ones for consumers. If you search, pile on many search terms, or else you'll get way too much.
Filings by public companies to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Will send E-mail when new forms are filed by companies you specify.
Freep 50 Nifty Job Boards
Links to the best job boards for journalists. Maintained by Joe Grimm of the Detroit Free Press.
Full-text state statutes on the Net
This page seeks to link to sites containing full-text state constitutions, statutes (called codes or compiled laws in some states), legislation (bills, amendments and similar documents) and session laws (bills that have become laws).
The search engine of choice of most journalists. Results based on relevancy and popularity. Factors in the number of links from other pages to the pages that it lists for you. And weights pages by the proximity of your search terms to each other on the page. It doesn't allow the precision searching of AltaVista; it just reads your mind. (But when will it learn to use OR correctly, or the wildcard *...)
Formerly known as Deja News, the best archiver of Usenet postings (messages), with about 15,000 newsgroups back to the beginning.
Access to much of the bureaucratic paper in Washington, electronically, from the Government Printing Office. Search and retrieve the full text from more than 70 databases and indexes, including the Federal Register, Congressional Record, Economic Report of the President, Economic Indicators, Commerce Business Daily, U.S. Code, Congressional bills, GAO reports, Supreme Court decisions, and more. A list of databases with content descriptions and search hints is available. Time coverage for the databases varies. Print versions of many of these databases can be found in depository libraries.
GPO Finding aids
From the U.S. Government Printing Office, these tools allow you to browse titles or documents at various federal sites.
Detailed information on more than 40,000 nonprofits, and summary info on more than 700,000 U.S. charities and nonprofits. On most you get only the name, address, amount of income and assets. Now adding info from Form 990, the U.S. nonprofit tax return. Searchable by keyword, type, state, revenue range, and tax ID number.
Hoover's Company Database
The first place on the Web to find a bare-bones profile of a company, especially U.S. companies, if the company is big enough to be in the most visible 50,000. You just need part of the company name. Lists key company info for free.
How far is it
Calculate the distance between any two places in the world. Then see maps.
InfoSpace Reverse Lookup
Just enter a number, address, area code or E-mail address to find listings. Reverse listings are mostly U.S. only. The best part: Look for "find neighbors of...." The result links you to neighborhood map, directions, businesses nearby, and neighbors.
Internet Scout Report and Net-happenings
Of course, there are alert services to keep you up to date on new Web sites. This is the best. Published every Friday by E-mail and on the Web, the Internet Scout Report is a rolling best of the Net, with materials selected and annotated by librarians and subject experts.
JURIST subject guides
Authoritative legal guides that are terrific for reporters on deadline: administrative law, commercial law, cyberspace law, environmental law, et al. Each links to recent articles, legislation, books and journals.
Relatively cheap searches of driver records, motor vehicles, etc., from many states. Unlike AutoTrack, does not require a corporate account.
Landings aircraft databases
A treasure trove of information on aircraft: search for pilots, airplanes by tail number, medical exams, distance between airports, etc.
Liszt doesn't archive the messages, but it does keep a great directory of 90,000 mailing lists, with instructions on how to subscribe. Search for "jazz" and you'll find several jazz groups. Or browse through a directory by subject.
Managing Computer-Assisted Reporting
A 10-step generic plan for a newsroom, from Power Reporting.
Mapquest Driving Directions
Mapquest will show you the way -- approximately -- between any two North American cities -- distance, maps, directions.
Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Locator
More than 900,000 lawyers and law firms in the U.S. and elsewhere -- not all of them. But search the entire country at once.
Mathematics Competency Test for Journalists
Phil Meyer's math quiz. Some form of it is coming to a city desk near you.
National Center for Charitable Statistics
The best site for information on nonprofits. Now adding copies of IRS Form 990, the nonprofit tax return, for U.S. tax-exempt organizations. Also many databases, state profiles of nonprofits, other guides.
National Center for Education Statistics surveys
A list of survey areas (i.e. data sources) at the National Center for Education Statistics (U.S.)
National Criminal Justice Reference Service
A deep resource of information on criminal justice: corrections, courts, crime prevention, statistics, drugs, juveniles, law enforcement, research, victims. Maintains several mailing lists about police work. Some lists are open, and others are restricted to law officers. Topics include bike cops, cop fleet, high tech crime fighting, criminal justice, emergency management, Department of Justice announcements, law enforcement analysts, firearms instructors, and public safety communications.
National Geographic Map Machine
An authoritative atlas of the world: political, physical and satellite maps.
Newhouse Net Lists
An excellent list of mailing lists and newsletters for journalists of all kinds. By Barbara Croll Fought of Syracuse University.
Newspaper Archives on the Web
More newspapers are offering free or low-cost archives on the Web. An up-to-date collection of links to U.S. newspaper archives by the good souls at the Special Libraries Association.
Newsroom guidelines on Internet use
Sample guidelines for a newsroom, from Power Reporting.
Non-US Newspaper Archives
Links to archives of newspapers outside the U.S.
Not currently open to the public, but coming back. The old description: Smartly evaluates and organizes your search results by source or subject. This gives you a more orderly set of results if you blindly search for a name or phrase. New forms allow you to narrow your search by industry or site types. The search syntax is not so powerful as on AltaVista, but the results grouped into folders may make up for it.
Oxford English Dictionary
The greatest dictionary in any language is now on the Web, but at a price: $550 for an individual subscription, $750 for an institution. But the word of the day is free. And institutions can sign up for a 30-day free trial. Each entry gives a thorough history of the word's meanings.
The official dockets of most U.S. Federal courts (District, Bankruptcy and Appellate) are available on a dial-up, pay-per-use service called PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). Requires a computer and modem and communications software. Each court has a different modem number; all that is centralized is the billing. Most courts charge 60 cents a minute. The PACER Service Center on the Web is the Federal Judiciary's centralized registration, billing, and technical support center for this service. Also see the U.S. Party/Case Index, which can be searched on the Web, for a fee. Many courts also now have links to RACER (Real-Time Access to Court Electronic Access), which gives copies of the court documents. See the court list.
PACER U.S. Party/Case Index
A new service, operated by PACER, allowing national or regional searches of court records by name and Social Security Number in the bankruptcy index, party name and nature of suit in the civil index, and party name in the criminal index. "Not all federal courts participate in the U.S. Party/Case Index." The fee is 7 cents per page. A login and password are required. Billing is quarterly.
Patent Server from Delphion IBM
Easy search to find people in your area with patents. Or search by type of invention, or words in the description.
Percent Change Calculator
From George Landau, who may not be kidding. As he says, "The fact that you need this tool will be our little secret."
Power Reporting broadcast seminars
For producers, reporters, researchers and bookers. Power Reporting workshops are hands-on, practical training for journalists, focusing on daily and deadline reporting.
Power Reporting campus seminars
For faculty and students. Power Reporting workshops are hands-on, practical training for journalists, focusing on daily and deadline reporting.
Power Reporting newsroom seminars
For reporters and editors. Power Reporting workshops are hands-on, practical training for journalists, focusing on daily and deadline reporting.
Power Reporting sample data files
Arts grants, coaches' salaries, drug searches -- and other sample files, for spreadsheets and databases. From Power Reporting.
Price's List of Lists
If there's a list on the Web, Gary Price has found it.
Professor Gibson's Wonderful World of Editing
Thoughtful (and concise) tips on grammar, usage and editing, from Malcolm Gibson, a former newspaper editor who teaches at the University of Kansas.
ProfNet Experts Directory
A service connecting reporters to public relations people for universities, corporations, etc. A useful service. Send a question (to universities only, or to a broader group), and you get answers back that day. Be careful: Make your question specific.
Project Vote Smart
Free background reports on members of Congress. A toll-free hotline for reporters and voters. Voting records. Free handbooks.
Formerly known as MedLine. A service of the National Library of Medicine in the U.S., it has more than 11 million searchable medical references and abstracts, as well as some journal and newspapers articles. Some items have full text. See also Medline Plus, the consumer version.
Spanish language search engine and directory of Web sites.
A fabulous one-stop shop for the best phone finders and search engines. Compiled by Duff Wilson of The Seattle Times.
Reporting Census 2000
Created by Stephen K. Doig, formerly of The Miami Herald, now in the Knight Chair in Journalism. His book Reporting Census 2000 is the best introduction to the new census, written by a journalist for journalists.
Scout Report Signpost
Culled from the Scout Report newsletters, Signpost is a searchable directory of 8,000 of the best Web sites, in many topics. One of the sites you would take on your desert island trip.
Search the Federal government
The Pathway Indexer searches more than 1,300 U.S. government agencies and military Internet sites. A prior link was given with more specific info. (http://gather.access.gpo.gov/Harvest/brokers/Pathway/query.html) but it cannot be opened.
Search tools chart
A comparison of the various directories and search engines, and how to search them.
SearchSystems.net state public records
Links to public records in the 50 states, most free, including professional licenses, coporate registrations, cities and towns.
Secretaries of State corporate registrations
Links to the secretary of state in each of the 50 states, and Puerto Rico. These offices all register corporations, and many allow online lookups of basic information. From the National Association of Secretaries of State.
Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics
More than 600 tables on criminal justice in the U.S., from more than 100 sources. Published in November each year. Prisons, juveniles, arrests, public attitudes, the criminal justice system. Now includes spreadsheets for most tables (scroll to the bottom of each chapter to see "tables.")
State and Local Government on the Net
Formerly Piperinfo. A thorough collection of links to public records in 50 states.
State and National FOI Resources
Links, phone numbers and other state-by-state details, from the National Freedom of Information Coalition.
News on the states, from the Pew Center on the States. The site is designed to assist journalists who cover public policy issues at the state level. It covers such top issues as taxes, healthcare, education, with a staff of eight reporters and editors. It also publishes a daily round-up of state news from 140 newspapers. There is a page for each state listing political facts, governor's bio, press contacts, information about the legislature and links to state pages.
Links to Web sites in the 50 states: criminal justice, economic development, education, transportation, et al. More than 2,000 links. From the National Association of State Information Resource Executives.
Statistical Abstract of the United States
Uncle Sam's reference shelf. Provides graphs, charts and other information on more that 30 topics, ranging from population to elections to agriculture.
Supreme Court (via Cornell)
Cornell University's searhable repository of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, party name tables, print citations, and case summaries.
Supreme Court bulletins from Cornell
U.S. Supreme Court opinions are distributed, in syllabus form, by Cornell University's Legal Information Institute within hours of their release. Also has decisions from the New York Court of Appeals.
Switchboard telephone search
Search 106 million listed residential telephone numbers in the U.S., by name. (Also 11 million business listings.)
Tapping Officials' Secrets
Comprehensive guides to state laws on public meetings and public records (print and electronic), from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
The Campaign Desk
Critique and analysis of 2004 campaign coverage, from Columbia Journalism Review. Also links to campaign finance, campaign schedules, other political sites.
The Elements of Style (William Strunk Jr., 1918)
The classic. You must know the rules to break them.
The New Precision Journalism
Yes, free on the Web, here is Phil Meyer's classic text on the use of social science techniques in journalism. Surely this is the most influential book about journalism in many years. As the book begins, "If you are a journalist, or thinking of becoming one, you may have already noticed this: They are raising the ante on what it takes to be a journalist."
Thomas legislative information.
From the Library of Congress, full-text access to bills and resolutions under consideration in the current Congress and the two previous Congresses. Search bills and summaries, roll call votes, laws, the Congressional Record of statements in the Congress.
The site for finding companies by using their trademarks and brands. Formerly known as Thomas Register. Can also search for businesses by type of products. A great way to find companies, with address and phone. Or start with a company name to find out what it owns.
Today's Federal Register
Text of listings in the U.S. register of proposed regulations and other governmental actions.
U.S. Bureau of the Census
If you're on the Census mailing lists, you hear about upcoming data releases in population and economics, so you can localize a national story, or nationalize a local one. If you're not on the list, you're out of luck. Subscribe to one of four lists: the monthly product announcement, the biweekly bulletin, a monthly list of feature ideas, and the press releases (including info on new data).
U.S. Federal Courts List
An official list of links to federal courts.
U.S. Federal Government Agencies
An up-to-date list of federal agencies on the Internet, from Louisiana State U. With keyword search. Based on the U.S. Government manual. "No annotation will be provided. This index is for people who know where they want to go, but don't know the address."
U.S. Federal Government Agency List
An annotated list (quite thorough) of main items at selected U.S. government agencies. Also from Louisiana State U.
U.S. Government Accountability Office
Previously known as the General Accounting Office. A lot of journalists use this one. The GAO Daybook is a daily update on reports, documents and testimony. It comes in two forms: an announcement by title and number of pages; and, a few days later, with a URL to the GAO site.
United States Code
Cornell University's searchable U.S. laws.
Voice of America Pronunciation Guide
Nearly 2,000 foreign names and words, with phonetic spellings and the opportunity to hear them pronounced. Used by newscasters for Voice of America. Hearing the names pronounced requires speakers and the free Real Audio player.
War coverage resources
Suggestions and links, particularly for covering war in the Middle East, from the Radio-Television News Directors Association.
Web treasure hunt and newsroom literacy test
Who can surf the Web? All of us. But are we literate? And what defines literacy? While every newsroom has people who are advanced researchers, many of us are struggling somewhere beyond Yahoo. Any test of literacy is subjective. But these 10 questions are the kind that come up in newsrooms every day.
West Legal Directory
More than 800,000 lawyers and law firms in the U.S. -- not all, but many. If you know the name, you can find the lawyer anywhere in the U.S. Or search by area of practice.
Maybe you can find a person or organization by searching for its Web domain names, such as creator.org or elvisisalive.com. Listings include name, address and E-mail address. Search in the registry of top-level domains (only .com, org., .net). Use just the domain name (yahoo.com), not a full URL (www.yahoo.com or http://www.yahoo.com). Note the help file for other options, including searching by company name.
"The Educational Dictionary-Thesaurus," with more than 50,000 words defined. Links to synonyms.
Yahoo News Alerts
A free way to stay up on news from AP, Reuters, etc. Especially helpful for news organizations without full-text clipping services, such as Nexis-Lexis or Dow Jones Interactive. Will send e-mail up to twice a day alerting you to news articles containing certain words or phrases. Set up as many alerts as you like. Free registration required.