Hot topics - investigations by subject
- Vexed voters: the undead, the overvote, stalled motor voters, those without IDs
- Border bloodshed:US citizens murdered in Mexico in the last five years exceeds 470 cases - most unsolved
- Houston is major center for prescription drug dealing - and deaths...
- Harris County Probate courts: Millions at stake
- The saga of Sam Kent and the secretive federal judicial complaint system
- 1970s Serial Killings - Who really did them?
Saturday, March 8, 2014
SXSW Top 10 tips - and a bonus 11th one too
Here's a few of the tips and tricks from my SXSW Interactive talk about getting beyond the invisible web, thinking outside the box and using social media and shoe leather to get stories.
1. Remember Google won't search it all. Maybe not even half of what's out there. Know and use advanced Google searches (like searching within URLs or by file type) and try OTHER search engines, especially for other countries.
2. For social media, search inside Linked In, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter itself and use advanced searches there too - you can easily uncover connections between people who aren't your friends by comparing their friends or look for relatives of contacts you can't otherwise find via FB; you can find ex-employees of companies you're researching and then send people messages via LI.
3. Sample various Social Media search tools - they're constantly evolving. Compare results on sites like http://www.icerocket.com/ with others. Doug Haddix of Kiplinger does a good job of keeping track - check out his presentations on Social Media Sleuthing. Here's one: http://www.slideshare.net/mandyjenkins/social-media-searching
4. Remember Twitter itself only searches recent tweets. To go back, you must use another tool.
There are several choices - http://snapbird.org/ is an example. To look at your own stuff, check out "all my tweets."
5. Public records are everywhere these days. I start with the assumption that the document is probably somewhere out there - or at least the index or an e-mail of the source will be. A directory with many links is Search Systems http://publicrecords.searchsystems.net/. Even small county courts are increasingly online. Justia has some cool court-related links http://www.justia.com/
6. Explore the many tools for tracking corporations worldwide, like http://www.corporationwiki.com/ or Open Corporates
or Investigative Dashboard. For non profits, there are many more - Charity Navigator, Foundation Search are examples.
7. Check out tools in Ancestry.com - a paid but inexpensive site set up for historians and genealogists that can be useful for finding connections between individuals. Use free directories like Whitepages.com and Zabasearch, pipl.com and even Findagrave.com too.
8. Remember to search not just for one name - but associated names, associated addresses and variations of names (nicknames, misspellings, etc).
9. Just because it says so in a document doesn't mean it's true. Sometimes the stories are in exposing the lies.
10. Remember photos and e-mails - private records - can be really useful documents too. Ask sources to e-mail records, ask lawyers to share statements, documents obtained via lawsuits.
11. Protect yourself and your sources - the things we know can be used against us. Margot Williams of ICIJ did a nice summary of tips on this topic from #NICAR14 here: http://www.icij.org/blog/2014/03/beginners-guide-improving-online-security
MANY MORE COOL STUFF FROM IRE's #NICAR14 here - http://ire.org/conferences/nicar-2014/tipsheets/?edit-off