Social media for journalists

By Brad Harper

Here’s one link that can change your newsroom’s entire reporting process:

That’s because Doug Haddix knows how to use social media to find almost everyone, as well as their contacts, locations and opinions. And he can show you how to do it. That source you’ve been desperate to find was right at your fingertips the whole time, a click away.

The free, easy-to-use tools and search engines linked in Haddix’s tipsheet can hand you a list of people in your area interested in almost any subject or export a list of tweets to an Excel document ready to be turned into a database. It can even show you who is on a breaking news scene, where they are and what they’re saying online, thanks to the fact that so few people turn off the geotracking feature on their phones.

"Bad for them, good for us as investigative journalists," Haddix said.

Here are a few of the sites and tools highlighted by Haddix, along with their functions:

  • can be used to display themed pages with all of your coverage on a certain subject and reach an audience that’s less active on Facebook or Twitter.
  • lets you search for news stories, tweets and mentions across a variety of social media - all updating in real time - and then share your results page with others.
  • can help you find where a person blogs.
  • gives you an index of people and oganizations on Twitter that can be searched in a variety of ways. A search for “autism and Ohio” brings up the accounts of people in Ohio who often talk about the subject, including some popular local bloggers.
  • searches for blog comments, news stories, videos and more related to your subject.
  • goes a step further, showing you tweets, stories, photos, videos and links for a specific time period.
  • can show those types of results marked on a map, producing a clear picture of who’s talking about what in a specific area.
  • is an app designed for mobile phones that uses others’ geotracking to show on a map exactly where they were when they tweeted.
  • can show everything a user has ever tweeted, and show it in a format that can easily be copied and pasted into a spreadsheet.
  • lets you search for tweets and includes an option to export your search results directly to Excel.
  • and can help you find common connections between online users.

Haddix also recommends that journalists take advantage of LinkedIn For Journalists, which gives you a webinar tutorial on LinkedIn’s more advanced searches as well as a free premium account that offers you more features in tracking down sources.