Tag Archives: journalism

Case Study 10: Wordle

18 Apr

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Wordle is an excellent tool. It is probably my favorite, so far. I love the idea of putting in a passage or piece of writing and having this system show you the most mentioned words in the piece of writing in such a visual way. The most common words are often larger, repeated and sometimes bold. This tool summarizes a piece of writing in the way a graph summarizes data. It makes themes easily understood in a  visual way. It can help highlight themes and underlying messages that may not be obvious when you first read or glance at the piece.

I used Wordle to examine President Barak Obama’s State of the Union Addresses from 2010, 2011 and 2012.

2010

Common themes and words in the 2010 State of the Union Address were: Now, economy, business, people, American, jobs, work and government. This was his first time addressing the nation as president unless you count his speech in 2009.

2011

 

Common themes and words in his speech in his second year were: New, people, years, work, American, world, country, future and spending.

2012

His common themes and words in 2012 were: Right, time, Americans, jobs, one, people, economy, energy, tax and congress.

By looking at these three speeches, we can see that his addresses to the nation have had a consistent theme. He has focused on addressing the American people about the future, the economy, jobs and spending. Becoming bigger each year was the mention of energy and jobs.

Tools like Wordle can help journalists spot changes in focus, emphasis and importance in certain aspects and areas by looking at the words used. The tool is also neat because you can choose colors, fonts and different ways to present your Wordle cloud.

This is something you could easily spend a lot of time playing around with and more importantly, analyzing.

Journalist Reform

17 Apr

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Journalism needs reform. All of this reform begins with the ones communicating the news; journalists.

People need to be interested in the news. Not only should they be interested in what is being communicated, but also in the way it is being presented. Jonathan Stray said journalists need to make people want to get “lost” on their sites just like they do on Wikipedia and Facebook. They need to want to invest time on the sites. In other words, the news needs to be presented in an engaging way. It needs to give people the interaction they find on sites that are not news sites.

One ways Stray suggests increasing engagement is through linking. Though much of journalism does not use linking, it is vital, he said, to its survival now. It also increases transparency and credibility.

The media also has to be better at giving people what they want. Journalists must learn to read and listen to the public.

Alfred Hermida thinks journalists need to acquire more skill. It is only like this that they can become entrepreneurs of new ways to communicate stories accurately and well.

He said journalists have to stop thinking “of themselves as wanting to be broadcast journalists, or radio journalists or print journalists: increasingly it’s all the same thing.”

The role of the journalist is changing; that we know. Jonathan Hewett said: “The journalist – at least in general interest media – is no longer the privileged channel, the person who knows more than anyone else and has the contacts. That’s hard to accept. Before the internet, the journalist was an elevated gatekeeper to a world that was more or less closed to the readers.”

He also said there is great reward and potential when journalists take that extra step to engage their readers and interact with them.

Thad Mcllroy disagrees about the whole notion that reform is needed and that print is dying. He said that focusing on the U.S. alone is not enough to truly report on the state of the media.

He said: “When the U.S. media look at the changes in media consumption trends, naturally enough, they tend to focus on the United States. This is terrifically misleading. Newspapers are thriving in countries such as India and China…I say to my friends and colleagues: You should feel blessed. You are part of a revolution in how information is distributed far greater than the invention of the printing press, and certain to have more far-reaching effects.”

Whatever the case may be, the Cub Reporters website makes an excellent point: “The media isn’t the only thing changing. The world of work is changing.”

If the world is changing, the way we journalists think and present information has to change as well.

Social media values and possibilities changing the news

9 Apr

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

There is no question about it. Social media has revolutionized journalism. In some ways, some would argue it allows journalists to do or accomplish what they were already trying to accomplish, except in a more time efficient way that reaches more people.

Brenna Ehrlich said: “Journalists are, by nature, crafty folk who are wonderfully adept at stalking — I mean, finding sources and relevant information for various and sundry stories. Well, the advent of social media has made the process of reporting all the more nuanced, and has served as a vital channel for everything from finding leads to contacting sources to sharing and furthering one’s brand.”

Social media has made finding information about someone easier. Something that would have been awkward to ask may now be out in the open on Facebook. Ehrlich compares Facebook to a phonebook, except with photos and biographical information.

Social media has other advantages apart from facilitating information. It also makes it so that journalists are no longer asking questions because people are saying what they think.

In places where journalists are not allowed, people can use the Internet to broadcast their opinions or their oppression. Ehrlich mentioned Iran as an example.

Brian Stelter, a reporter for The New York Times, receives feedback on stories and polishes them through interaction with people on his Twitter and his blog. He also uses both to promote his work and create that ever desired “brand.”

The most crucial aspect of the social media tool is “engagement with the audience,” said Brian Dresher, manager of social media and digital partnerships at USA Today.

Burt Herman said: “Journalism will be more collaborative, embracing the fundamental social nature of the Internet. The story will be shaped by people involved in the news, curated by savvy editors from diverse sources and circulated back again to the audience. This is the new real-time news cycle.”

Social media has added the “personal” element into news. How “personal,” can be debated, but the point is that journalists and news organizations are taking advantage of these tools to connect with others.

“Get readers involved with your brand, engage them with their hearts and minds and the money will follow,” the CoverItLive editor said.

Dan Gillmor said there is a lot to be excited about.

“Why, given the crumbling of newspapers and the news industry in general, should we believe in abundance? Just look around,” he said. “The number of experiments taking place in new media is stunning and heartening. Entrepreneurs are moving swiftly to become pioneers in tomorrow’s news.”

With this breaking away from the monopoly of information, there is an issue with ensuring the credibility of the news media as it becomes more collaborative.

“We’ll have to instill throughout our society principles that add up to critical thinking and honorable behavior,” Gillmor said.

He said readers and participants need to be skeptical, critically think, and go out of their comfort zones. Journalists on the other hand, need to demand transparency, be fair, fact check and be independent. I find the first and last one very hard to do with this new collaborative journalism. How can you force people to be transparent and be independent when you rely on others a lot more heavily, which is what social media facilitates?

Esther Thorson and Michael R. Fancher found by using a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press study that the general audience and journalists have very different ideas about what the core values of the press should be.

If the values are different, it will be difficult for them to collaborate well together.

Matt Egan argues, “Social media is eroding core journalistic values. And whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, professional journalists are just as much to blame as flaming web trolls.”

He states that though journalists through social media are influencing a larger amount of people, they are also being influenced, and that may not be a good thing. He states this can be negative because the person influencing the news could be anyone. Anyone, means anyone.

Some are arguing that social media is destroying journalism completely; that journalists are trying to use what will end up being their demise. Robert Picard went as far as to write a piece in The Christian Science Monitor called “Why journalists deserve low pay.”

He began his piece by saying: “Wages are compensation for value creation. And journalists simply aren’t creating much value these days. Until they come to grips with that issue, no amount of blogging, Twittering, or micropayments is going to solve their failing business models.”

Whatever your opinion may be, one thing is certain: Social media cannot be ignored.

Richard Gordon, a professor at Northwestern University said, “Social media are changing in fundamental ways. Journalists, newsrooms and media companies ignore these changes at their peril.”

TOOLS

Google Trends and Google Correlate:

Google Trends and Google Correlate are tools that give you special insight as a journalists. They give you a peek at the mind of the reader and average person out there and what they care about or think about together.

Google Trends shows what term or reference people refer when they search, while Google Correlate helps you see what people associate with each other and search patterns.

These tools can help journalists not only figure out what to write about and what a “hot” topic is but also it serves as a tool to write SEO-friendly headlines that will be more likely to pop-up when the reader types a search into Google.

Check out my Google Trends [a] and Google Correlate [b] below.

[a]

Hispanic vs. Latino in the Google search.

[a] Latino is obviously a more popular term. One can see that it was especially used in Mexico and Spain. In the U.S., however, both are almost used interchangeable and at the same rate.

[b]

French Elections

[b]  It is neat that Google Correlate works with other languages. I tried it in French. I searched “Election Presidentielle” and it reflected the association and search pattern with “Sondages,” which means surveys or polls, which is something the French actively follow to see how the public opinion on certain candidates changes. Very cool.  🙂

Entrepreneurial journalism: World Hum

4 Apr

By: Gabriela Gonzalez, Luke Gavin, Casey Speers and Olivia Feldman

The co-founders of World Hum are Jim Benning and Michael Yessis. Benning was a freelance magazine writer who started at the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register. Yessis was travel editor for the USA Today. Both were friends and big fans of Salon.com’s “Wanderlust” section. When Salon killed the section, Benning and Yessis complained until they decided to start one on their own for $30.

The site was cheap to start up partly because Yessis knew website coding and set up and coded the website by hand. The site began with three stories and a call for submissions. Their goal was to bring writing and editing expertise to the site, so they had high standards. Its big break was when a World Hum story was published in “The Best American Travel Writing” anthology.

World Hum did not have advertising at first, since traffic was minimal. In 2005 and 2006, however, Benning and Yessis redesigned the site, so that it could include ads. Currently, they are not selling ads on the website, but there are Google ads on the site, and these are triggered by key words on a page. Even with the ads, they weren’t making big money. The site’s revenue was modest, bringing in about $1,000 to $2,000 per year.

With the owners mainly spending only their spare hours on the site, it was more of a “labor of love,” Benning said.

Things changed when the Travel Channel purchased World Hum in 2006 and employed the two men full time to run the website. This brought an editorial budget and other support that allowed the site to thrive, but only for a few years.
In 2010, Scripps Network bought Travel Channel and chose not to support World Hum, and Benning and Yessis were laid off. Although Travel Channel still owns World Hum, Benning and Yessis are licensed to run the site and earn profits from it.

Eva Holland is the senior editor of World Hum. She first heard about World Hum while still in England; the website was in a book called the “Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing,” and she became a huge fan. While at the Book Passage Conference in San Francisco in August 2007, she met Jim Benning, and she officially started blogging for World Hum the following month. Since becoming its senior editor in 2009, Holland now manages the unsolicited submissions inbox, which has many stories from new writers.

World Hum is not your typical travel site. World Hum has maintained its presence on the web by using social media to promote stories. One interesting aspect of their site is that on the homepage it has boxes where you can “like” its Facebook page, see what stories Facebook users are recommending to readers and view new and old posts from the @worldhum Twitter feed. Along with the integration of social media, the page layout is easy to navigate and nicely organized by categories. The website also has a “Destinations” tab, which allows users to browse every location that World Hum covers, which is just about every country in the world.

Journalism’s great experiment

3 Apr

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

“Journalism is not dying, it is just changing,” is what all of my first-year professors told us in J-school.

Advertisements’ cause of death: Yahoo and Craigslist. Newspapers’ cause of death: the Internet.

This is not a new topic.

It is official: Open newsrooms are having conversations with their readers and using social media to obtain feedback and information. Those who stick to traditional journalism shield themselves saying their type of journalism is more analytical and in-depth.

Clay Shirky said, “Journalism has remained so unchanged … that journalists didn’t feel they had to change. As such, there was a general skepticism of online sources. Leads can be found everywhere now, from places you’d never deem credible in the past. Amateur blogs, for one … But, five years ago, if you said you were citing a stranger on the Internet you’d [probably] get yelled at by an editor.”

If it was wrong before, what makes it right now?

Shirky also adds that by linking and becoming more innovative in journalism, newspapers can avoid plagiarism. This is an argument all on its own. Is aggregation plagiarism?

Of course, the media that opts to go digital faces its own challenges such as no or reduced revenue.

Newspapers went steady and even had their readership explode in the 1830s, he said. Part of the reason why newspapers were successful was because there was a scarcity of news. There was only a couple of selected places to get your information. Now, that scarcity of news is gone. Competition has intensified.

Shirky argues the newspaper and print media needs “radical reinvention.”

Julie Moos of the Poynter Institute writes, ““The monopoly era of factory-produced, one-way, institutional journalism has ended.”

Today, what exists is a “democracy of distribution.” Anyone who had Internet can publish or access any information available.

Journalism is not dying, however. “Many students are still choosing to enter journalism programs,” Eunice Chan said.

According to Ernie Sotomayor, careers director at Columbia University graduate school of journalism, the number of applicants to journalism schools is increasing.

What appeals to students even more now is the fact that with the Internet their work is received by a larger audience.

Mathew Ingram writes that people are still looking for journalists who can break down and make sense of what is out there. The readers need someone who can breakdown data and analyze it.

Even if journalism is alive and well, and it is just going through a period of experimentation, journalists must change with it to keep it alive and competitive.

Steve Myers said: “We know we should broaden our network of sources, but we stick to official ones. We know we can connect with the community through social media, but we haven’t signed in to Twitter in months. We know we should think Web-first, but our days are still built around the daily deadline.”

Not only does the journalist have to adapt to new technology and media platforms, but he or she must work on adding value to the craft.

Richard Koci Hernandez, a photographer at the Mercury News, said, “”Right now there’s a huge appetite for multitalented journalists. You have to bring something else to the table.”

In journalism today, you need to show that you can bring value to your work. If you can do multimedia, you’ll have a job. One needs to separate oneself from the average blogger out there.

Gina Masullo Chen said: “Challenge away. We’re fighting for our lives here as an industry. We can’t afford to do anything that doesn’t add value, and figuring out what adds value must be tied to the reader…We must listen to our readers.”

She writes about journalists saying, “I think part of the reason is we assume readers don’t really know what they want or we think what they want isn’t good for them.  That paternalistic model, frankly, hasn’t been working for decades.”

I think it is tough to balance listening to the reader, but keeping the quality of your work. She argues that journalists see world affairs and news about the economy as important, but the readership doesn’t care. People, in my opinion and maybe I am thinking like a “paternalistic” journalist here, are shallow. They want shallow and dumb news. People wonder why the U.S. ranks low in knowledge about international affairs and politics in comparison to other countries, and I believe this will get worse as we continue to go for the “listen to the reader” philosophy.

Maybe the “feed the reader” system hasn’t been working for decades, but I can tell you that through traditional media we had a much more educated public back then than we do now.

I think Ingram is right when he argues that journalism is more about inquiry and analysis rather than a method of publishing. So whether journalism goes digital first and print second is irrelevant, though this will probably happen. The most important issue here is the quality of the work being given.

I very much agree with Brent Cunningham who said, “Sustaining serious journalism in the digital age is a topic of much discussion and experimentation, most of which focuses on the product — the supply side of the information equation. But there will be no solution without demand from a citizenry that understands and values quality journalism.”

Facebook: The new face of journalism

30 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

“Everyone has one,” is what most will say about Facebook. It is the place where people go to connect, create an image and check up on other people. It is a place where you can collect every face you’ve ever encountered and follow their lives, and where you can post photos you took of yourself shamelessly.

This tool that has managed to connect the planet, except for the Chinese because they have their own version of it, is seen by journalists as a platform. It is a place where they can, as The Next Web website explains, create online communities and engage readers. Facebook is not a place for breaking news like Twitter, but it can still deliver news in a timely fashion and be updated constantly, it argues.

Facebook also allows you to receive notifications, and you choose who you share certain things with. In this respect, Facebook is a lot more private than Twitter.

It has become about building relationships with people and creating dialogue. It is a platform, not only for media, but for protests and other mobilizations of groups.

Vadim Lavrusik calls Facebook a “social newspaper.” He said Facebook helps journalists build their brand, and it helps disseminate information to a large group of people. It can also help tell a story in a multi-media fashion because one can embed videos and other links.

Journalists through Facebook can ask readers questions and involve them in the process of news and provide them with extra analysis.

As a journalist, with Facebook,  you can try to reach an audience of 800 million.

Facebook continues to grow and add applications and new ways to tell stories. You can update from just about anywhere with a mobile device. There is no telling what new things could come up in the future. Things we perhaps have never thought of.

It would be neat if in the future Facebook partnered with Skype to add interaction to the medium between journalists and the readers and audience. If Facebook adds a “live TV” type element, this would further help the timeliness of news and the presentation of it on the spot.

For my blog, I have added an application available under “share” where you can share my blogs on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t have a Facebook. As clever and useful as it may be, I think it is a shallow way of interacting with people. Nothing beats being in a place with another person face-to-face.

Facebook also brings many ethical concerns. Facebook boasts privacy and protecting your profile, yet at the same time is serves as a medium to give out information and leave nothing hidden. Ethical concerns include and are not limited to: conflicts of interests with readership and “friends;” because Facebook is about real time, sacrificing quality for the speed you can spread the information; and having readers contribute and not fact checking. Another concern is that most people communicate through typing. Most of the time email communication for journalists is discouraged because it could be anyone, which undermines credibility, and one cannot distinguish tone in a written message which could make portraying something accurately a problem. Facebook is no different.

I think Facebook could compromise the key values of “acting independently” and “accuracy” in reporting. I also think it cheapens what we do. Facebook and Twitter have strived to give anyone the power to publish, and that is NOT always a good thing.

Case Study 7.1: Credibility in Twitter journalism

20 Mar

By:Gabriela Gonzalez

It was the same event, except BBC’s story was twice the length of the RTE News story. What was the difference? BBC was getting input from people and “witnesses” in the city via Twitter about the grenade attack in Liege, Belgium. The entire BBC story is filled with attributions such as: “media say,” “witnesses say,” “earlier reports,” “medical staff,” and “people were told,” but it doesn’t say who said what specifically. The BBC story is filled with details that are unconfirmed, and may not be true because people can post whatever they want on Twitter. Someone may make something a lot more dramatic than it really is. Using audience input that has not been verified could put your publication’s credibility on the line.

RTE News gave the facts as did The New York Times. Their stories were concise and gave the only confirmed information which was an estimate of how many had died. RTE News used police and television footage for its account of what happened.

According to Red66, about 23 newspapers from around the world used Twitter in 2008. About 16 radio and television stations, including BBC in multiple languages, used Twitter in 2008. It is probably safe to say a lot more today use Twitter.

By having the public interact with them and contribute to news, the news organization also shares and promotes its own work. Twitter is excellent because people can update about things that happen instantly, for example, natural disasters. It calls itself in some instances a “newswire.”

ReadWriteWeb said Twitter is a quick way to get assured information. It is debatable whether the information is truly so accurate.

Despite potential lack of credibility, according to Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism studied 13 news organizations from print, TV and radio and found, “Mainstream news organizations primarily use Twitter to move information and push content to readers.”

When news outlets use Twitter it is important for the news outlet to verify and check the information before it is included in pieces of journalism. The key values of journalism are accuracy, fairness, transparency, professional responsibility and independence. Journalists and news organizations must never compromise those values. It is only through the journalist taking the time to fact check that the comments and contributions made through Twitter actually contribute something to the news organization and journalism itself.

It is better to have a one-sentence story and have it be accurate, than one that is three pages long and filled with inaccuracies.

Case Study 7: Ethics of Twitter journalism and people watching

19 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Twitter has encouraged a new kind of literary journalism.

The Andy Boyle report on the couple breaking up, ‘The Restaurant of Broken Dreams,” was fascinating. It is nothing we all haven’t walked by or witnessed ourselves. If we were to record bits of every conversation we hear while walking, riding the bus or going to the restroom, we would have so many interesting stories.

One time I was in the bathroom and I heard an entire conversation about a girl’s embarrassment when her atheist boyfriend decided to show up at her Methodist church, and he noisily walked in when they were in the middle of prayer.

I don’t think I was intruding on her privacy. Many people cite privacy as a big problem or violation in this type of journalism. My thoughts are that anything in public is free to use unless someone has an expectation of privacy. For example, if someone is on the phone and is trying to speak in hushed tones or separates themselves from a crowd in public, then obviously this person has an expectation of privacy. By law, there are other factors that determine expectation of privacy, such as the location of the person, for example, a residence or a closed items like posted mail.

If a person walks into a room talking on the phone like they are Julia Roberts or something, then obviously their conversation is like a show; something theatrical. This is free to be used because the person is not trying to withhold the information from you. The person knows there are ears all around.

Though the person may know others are listening, however, this does not mean recording is ethical. Recording is different from just hearing something in public. Recording has an extra element that is not on paper when the person who hears it records it. With a sound bite, a person’s voice is recorded and this means the person can be more easily identified. This is a problem if you have not asked the person for permission because it may be illegal in the state in which you live.

Photos were a bit much in this piece. A photo of the couple is creepy. A photo of the restaurant and where they were sitting is not. The couple knew people were watching them, and they game Boyle a show, so he took everything in a recorded it. Maybe it was wrong just for the simple fact that he was giving them the attention they wanted.

As this type of journalism grows and people make a name out of themselves for the stories they record and witness, the ethics of the whole ordeal will evolve. I don’t think what Boyle did was unethical after he took down the photo of the couple. Everything else was interesting, true and fair game. People are interesting. Things happen. Write about the moments that should not be forgotten.

And here, you see, I did it myself #UFtabernacle.

Linking: Why link?

28 Feb

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

There is a columnist who writes for The Star-Banner in Ocala who includes links in his columns, professor Edward Weston said. People send him hate mail, saying the links are annoying. His response is he puts them there for people who want to know more. Reader’s disapproval stems from the fact that this is an older, more traditional audience that does not like links.

Why should links be used in journalism? According to Jim Stovall, “links tap into the interactivity function of the web, allowing the users to have some control over what they see and how they navigate through the information that the journalist is providing.”

He said the knowledge required to add a link is minimal HTML, hypertext mark-up language. “The tag for linking is <a href=> followed by the web address of the information or page you want to link to,” he said.

Stovall continued: “This should be placed before the word or words that will appear as the link on the web page. Immediately after those words should be an end tag, in this case </a>. That’s it. That is all the technical expertise that is required.”

Professor Ronald Yaros of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism did a study where it was proven that stories with the links to explanatory text did best as far as readership goes. And not just any links were good; traditional links were the best.

According to the Editor’s Weblog website, linking provides collaboration in news. “Link or sink” is the philosophy. Linking also serves to promote and publicize.

Ryan Sholin said journalists link to provide readers with as much information at their fingertips, to be ethical and to connect to different aspects of the community, whether it be other businesses, news outlets, government institutions or organizations.

Josh Korr expands on the idea by saying that you do not overwhelm the reader by aggregating and providing links, but instead you give them a choice. If they choose to click, they are given more information.

It is key, Scott Rosenberg said, to remember that reporting is not finding links, and that original reporting does have its advantages. Linking is not a call to abandon all that is traditional or original in journalism. It is a call to expand beyond that.

Salon editor-in-chief Kerry Lauerman said the time it takes to aggregate really well is still time away from original reporting. “It’s kind of the worst of both worlds,” Lauerman said. “You’re spending a lot of time on someone else’s work. You’re more motivated when you’re pursuing your own work.”

The BBC, for example, has guidelines to linking. Links should be relevant, maintained, suitable for the audience and accurate.

Journalists should be cautious in the way they link to stories. The Miami Herald learned about this the hard way when its software linked to a pornography website mentioned in the story published.

Other disadvantages can be that links lead readers to other websites and they may find an outlet they like a lot more than yours. Also, linking can create a conflict when it comes to objectivity. Perhaps certain links would reveal a journalist or organization’s inclinations or leanings.

According to Robert Niles, journalists are now becoming advocates for something, instead of remaining unbiased. Linking would, perhaps, add to this dilemma. There needs to be a fairness in linking.

Though linking must be done with caution and it does not substitute reporting, it is necessary in online journalism. It provides more to those who choose to go beyond what is given, which creates and rewards a more educated readership.

Case Study 4: Google Alerts

15 Feb

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Google Alerts can find some interesting stories and facts you may have never known about without its watchful eye.

“The service was created by Gideon Greenspan, a Ph.D. student at Israel’s Technion and long-time Macintosh developer,” said Jonathan Dube, of the Poynter Institue.

It just so happens that a Herald Reporter obtained news of a letter written to Florida Governor Charlie Crist asking him to pardon Jim Morrison of The Doors posthumously.

He got an awesome story that no one else had because he had alerts on the governor.

Signing up is free, and it only takes a moment. When you sign up, articles, blogs and whatever other news outlets you choose with your keyword are delivered directly to your inbox.

Google Alerts goes through about 4,500 news sources a day, Dube said. That is power.

The New York Times has an alert-tracking system, but it became a subscription service. Yahoo offers free alerts, but it seems no system can beat the Google Alert.

For financial news, Dube said Forbes and Market Watch also have an alert system that is free.

So, why use Google Alerts or any other tracking system for any other reason other than the fact that you want to be the reporter with the story no one else has?

Alerts can be used for many things, said Melinda Storrs, who gives online tips for marketing entrepreneurs. Other than helping you keep tabs on certain subjects or even teams, they can help you keep track of yourself and your online profile.

Not only can alerts help you keep track of yourself and offer new story ideas, but they could point to potential sources and new interests.

The most important and obvious reason why Google Alerts and other alert systems are so useful is because they save you time. They send to your inbox what you could only perhaps find by sitting at a table reading for the rest of your life.

We don’t have 1,000 hours in a day to read every newspaper and look for those keywords we are so interested in or the words that pertain to our beat, Dube said. It is impossible.