Tag Archives: google

Case Study 4: Google Alerts for the well-rounded journalist

13 Feb

It’s no surprise that Google is doing all it can to stay on the ball to make finding things as easy as possible for both Regular Joes and journalists alike. The advent of social media tools has made it easier for users to locate exactly what they’re looking for based on what their peers have seen and found, essentially cutting a third party search service like Google out of the equation. However, Google Alerts have made it even easier to find exactly what you’re looking for, especially if it’s a specified search.

By setting up Google to find things in news, blogs and essentially anywhere else on the web, you can have alerts sent to your email inbox about anything from news about your favorite store to your own name. For example, I have alerts set up for my name, a popular movie coming out in December that I like to stay updated on and a topic that I frequently blog about.

Google Alerts is a great feature for journalists to keep up with important people and topics, as well as a useful professional tool to keep tabs on your Internet image.

For journalists, Google Alerts is an invaluable research tool because it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Especially for reporters working on a beat, it’s a great way to catch a story.¬†Poynter has picked up on its benefits, and, from personal experience working in a local broadcast newsroom, it would have been much more helpful to use it to keep an eye on the competition than stalking WSVN and CBS4’s websites all day was.

But using this feature is more than simply setting it up and forgetting about it unless there’s a major breakthrough — it’s about thinking outside the box and maximizing it to its greatest potential. The story of the young Miami Herald reporter who, instead of just relying on the news setting, paid close attention to blogs for ideas and got a great scoop about Florida residents trying to get musical artist Jim Morrison posthumously pardoned. While many others in the newsroom had their alerts set to news only, he took advantage of getting updates from the all over the web. Other tools like GoogleNews and GoogleTrends are also great for the savvy journalist to stay on top of what’s popular and who’s covering what subjects to what extent.¬†While the feature certainly does not replace reading blogs and news on your own time (Google has that covered too with its RSS Reader), it’s a great tool to stay ahead of the curve and facilitate the exploration of story ideas outside the usual fodder.