Cool Tools

From MediaShift:

  • Source — An index of news developer source code, code walkthroughs and project breakdowns from journalist-coders.
  • School of Data — Online tutorials for working with data.
  • The Data Journalism Handbook — Reference book about how to use data to improve the news authored by 70 data journalism practitioners and advocates.
  • Open Refine — For data cleaning.
  • Gephi — For graph visualizations.
  • Hashtagify — Visualization of Twitter hashtags related to a particular #tag.
  • Investigative Dashboard — Methodologies, resources and links for journalists to track money, shareholders and company ownership across international borders.
  • Tabula — Open-source application that allows users to upload PDFs and extract the data in them in CSV format.
  • Topsy — Social media analysis tool mentioned in panel on covering emergencies.
  • DataSift — Mentioned in panel on covering emergencies.
  • Storyful — The social media Newswire for Newsrooms
  • GeoFeedia — Search and monitor social media by location.
  • Spokeo — “Spokeo is a people search engine that organizes White-pages listings, Public Records and Social Network Information to help you safely find & learn about people.”
  • The Tor project — Useful in environments likely to suffer from censorship. Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.

Twitter Tools

Journalists on Twitter

99 Things You can do with Twitter

TweetDeck aims to improve the existing functionality of Twitter by taking the abundance of Twitter feeds and breaking it down into more manageable bite-sized pieces.

Deck in 99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications

TwitPic lets you share photos on Twitter. You can post pictures to TwitPic from your phone, the TwitPic home page or your Twitter account.

Twitpic in 99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications


This app allows you to post Tweets at a later time and date.

Tweetlater in 99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications

This website is constantly being updated to allow you to find the most popular Twitter users. Want to be on the list? Twitter constantly.

Holic in 99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications

See trends on Twitter; find out what’s hot and what people are saying about it.

Qwitter: Catching Twitter quitters

Qwitter emails you when someone stops following you on Twitter.

Qwit in 99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications

Mapping Tools

A real-time geographic visualization of tweets. Amazing.

Vision in 99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications

Similar to Twittervision (above) but with a sleeker interface.

Earth in 99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications

Google Tools

  • Cached Links  View a snapshot of each page as it looked when Google indexed it-great for finding sites that no longer exist.
  • Calculator  Use Google to do math expressions.
  • Definitions Use Google to get glossary definitions gathered from various online sources.
  •  The site then runs daily Google searches for you and e-mails you the results. The first e-mail includes up to 50 results from Google, many of which you’ve probably seen before. But after that, the e-mails only include new results that have not appeared before. That’s the truly useful part.
  • Google Date Google Date lets you enter a date and then searches using Google for what happened on that date and shows three results. Since Google isn’t very good at sorting documents for relevance when it comes to dates, it usually doesn’t give you a list of big events, but of the things happening in the lives of random people.
  • Google History Use Google to find out in what year something happened. This works for events between 1800 and now.
  • Google Questions  Ask a question and Google tries to figure out the answer you are looking for. Such as “Who was Abe Lincoln?”
  • Google hotel finder-maps and prices instantly

Online Broadcasting

  • BlogTalkRadio-start your own free online radio station
  • Livestream-start your own free online video broadcast
  • QIK-Live video from your phone to another or to the web

Photo Editing

Tools to Find Stuff/People/Places



Business and Company Information

  • Annual Reports for Investors ( Annual reports are accessible in their original formats. The user can search by company name, ticker symbol, industry, or sector. There is also an alphabetical index of all companies providing reports. All reports are free, and no registration is required.
  • BRB Publications Free Resource Center ( More than just a directory to free public records searching, the Free Resource Center also provides links to articles to assist users in public record searches. In addition, the “Public Record Newsroom” lists current items in the news relating to public records of all types.
  • Lists of every known professional and business association in America
  • Construction Weblinks: Public Records ( This is a directory of mostly free websites to help the user learn different types of information about specific companies in the United States. Websites are arranged alphabetically and include bankruptcy data, earnings reports, pending litigation, and license suspensions.
  • Pretrieve ( This resource serves as a gateway to services on hundreds of websites that provide public records free of charge. Searches can be conducted by personal name, business name, address, or telephone number. For businesses, it provides financial, legal, trade-related, and research records, many as scanned images of originals. The user can view property records and even satellite imagery of both business and residential properties.
  • Who Exports What to Where (state by state) TradeStats allows you to see what each state exports and to whom they ship the stuff. Pick your state, pick a product and click the start button. The site is presented by the Office of Trade and Industry Information (OTII), Manufacturing and Services, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.
  • Public Records Finder ( Both business and personal public records are indexed in this comprehensive database. Nationwide searching is available, broken down by categories including business records, corporate tax forms, legal research resources, and professional licensing information.
  • Search SEC and business filings using the new Hoovers site:
  • National Association of Secretaries of State: Corporate Backgrounders good for researching businesses
  • Find a business near this address-great for breaking news:
  • Find a toll free number for a person or business
  • Internet Address Finder – E-mail Directory
  • Area code listing, by number


Investigating Politicians


Charities and Non-Profits


Charity Check-you need to know where all the money is going-every charity that takes in $25K has to file an I-990 form. They are the mother lode of information and they are open for your inspection. Go to your local charitable solicitations board, your secretary of state or, now, online to see these forms. A great new site has almost a million of these forms on file. They are constantly being updated and soon will include millions of I-990 forms.  (Hint-when looking for a specific charity, put the name in quotes.)


Charity Navigator rates charities and non-profits.



The Better Business Bureau also has a rating service for charities called

Foundation Giving by state and year –a list from The Foundation Center

Network for Good — which is powered by the Guidestar database includes financial snapshots

The American Institute of Philanthropy is a “Charity Watchdog” that offers a rating guide to roughly 500 charitable organizations to its donors. However, a list of the top-rated charities is available for free online.

The IRS provides a page of links to information about state agencies that regulate charities and other non-profits. For example, the Florida Division of Consumer Services offers a database that contains “financial summaries of charitable organizations which are registered with the State of Florida.”

For tax information, IRS Publication 526 covers charitable contributions.



 Who Owns that Website?  Search the ownership of any website in the world. Try this site called  is a service that enables you to automatically collect new information from your favorite pages on the Internet. You select which pages to monitor, and WatchThatPage will find which pages have changed, and collect all the new content for you. The new information is presented to you in an email and/or a personal web page.

Unravel IP addresses, host or name servers to figure out who is writing or hosting what. This is a one-stop shopping center.           the world in statistics


Product Safety Recall site by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Alerts are listed as soon as they are announced by the federal government.  Includes downloadable video and interviews.

Social Security Death Records


New Easy to use Census site:

Find out the basics about any city or town vital facts– quick click for basic facts on any city, state or county

FactFinder is the Census’ site that helps you get microspecific data, even map it. It is very easy to use. It is a free site that monitors Security and Exchange Commission filings.  The site will even send you an email when the company you are tracking files something new. Fantastic.

Read the EPA drinking water inspections in every water district in America.

Who is release toxic stuff in your community?  EPA has an easy to use tracking site. You can watch toxins, water, air pollution, land (dumping) and more. Just plug in a zip code, city, or state.
Online Pollsfrom political to topical polls, this site finds them and posts them daily

Tracking News Fast great journalism site.  is a fast and easy to load site that summarizes the leading headlines for hundreds of newspapers and online news sites around the world.


Create your own news page with MyYahoo and RSS feeds.  You can select from more than 150,000 websites and then arrange them on your page. The RSS feeds are constantly updated.  If you do not want to use MyYahoo, consider an RSS directories/display tools such as onfolio 2.0 or Feedster. Feedster indexes over 1 million syndicated sources and adds approximately 5,000 new feeds daily. This includes over 50,000 professionally published sources such as the New York Times, BBC, CNET, IDG, and Wired. Feedster also also continually monitors the leading weblog change notification sites such as, and others to make certain that the information from the blogosphere is as timely as possible.

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