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6 web skills every journalist needs

February 6, 2011

In the world of media, like many other industries, the internet changed everything. That’s true for the business of journalism, but also for the actual practice of it. It’s not that the old reporter skills don’t apply, it’s that there are a bunch of new skills all reporters should now know too. Any reporter who refuses to get their head around them is missing out.

Things like:

1) Cyberstalking – I know it sounds creepy, but there’s a whole bunch of info available online through social networking sites, and a lot of it is public information. Learn to use this to find out more about your target. What they like, what kind of life they need, who their friends are, and where they work. A great example of this is how one enterprising journalist figured out who worked at The Daily – Rupert Murdoch’s iPad only news publication – by tracking connections on LinkedIn.

2) Finding out who owns a web domain – You can use a whois search to get a contact phone number and often name for any site around the world. For New Zealand sites you can use the domain name commissioner.

3 How to use Twitter – It’s a great way to contact people, get interviewees, and generally get gossip. Find out about hashtags. Find out about direct messaging. Don’t be scared, it’s easy.

4) Google Alerts – These are great for staying on top of overseas news about local companies.

5) RSS feeds – You should have a reader set up to bring the latest posts from the best websites covering your round, especially if you’re dealing with breaking news. Web editors should have feeds set up to watch for breaking news from the competition.

6) Proper search technique – Like most things in life, web search is a skill. You just have to learn the lingo to cut your searching time dramatically.

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