The following is a selection of notes and links used for an MEAA workshop I am running on Online tools for freelance journalists.
The internet is absolutely overflowing with tools that can make a journalist’s life easier and here are just a few of the more common. But more importantly you will better understand how (and why) the media world around us is changing if you stay up-to-date on the changes. People who understand what is happening are less likely to become redundant in the online juggernaut.
Think of RSS as your own media monitoring service. Rather than visiting hundreds of different sites everyday to see new stories or updates it delivers them to your account – allowing you to access only one page to receive all of the information.
The one I use: Bloglines
It provides comprehensive instructions on setting up, but make things really easy for yourself by adding buttons to your browser
What if when researching a story you come across a webpage that probably isn’t updated regularly, but has some information that is useful. You want to keep a list of websites, like you do in the favourites section of your internet browser. But let’s say you want to do this for all the different areas that you write. Delicious allows you to bookmark all sites under an easy referencing system called tags.
Again, the easiest way to do this is to add a button to your internet browser toolbar.
Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. It is a handy way to monitor a developing news story or topic.
Developing an online presence
Marketing yourself as a freelancer has never been easier. Have a presence on the web allows you to publish constantly as well as showcase previously published work. To do this you don’t need spend money to buy a domain name and have a website designed you can simply use one of the many free blogs. This is a free WordPress blog and lets you publish and design a site in an easy manner. You can easily get your own, by following the step by step instructions. Here is a good blog post that explains some of the different functions.
Take a look at some examples of journalist blogs
A great resume style blog is Rachel Hills (typepad is another free blogging site like WordPress)
Also have a look at Craig Stolz, formerly a journalist at The Washington Post, has been blogging for one year. His post on the things he has learnt blogging is very useful.
Blogs to read
Reading blogs is a great way to keep up-to-date with anything and everything. But even if you are already reading blogs regularly, I urge you to add some blogs that are not strictly about journalism or news. Two that I recommend strongly:
If you were one of the last people to hear about Twitter, or you still don’t know how Facebook works, then reading this frequently updated news blog will put you into the loop. All the Web 2.0 and social networking trends, tools, and sites are covered here.
Of the millions of blogs that are updated frequently, only a few are really going to be helpful. Generally one good blog leads to another. Just look at the blogroll — the list of blog links in the sidebar.
If you want a place to start sampling, try Best of the Journalism Blogs.
Do you have any other ideas of introductory online tools for journalists?