Thursday, October 25, 2007

Getting the paper on john doe ... and other great online sources for investigations large and small

The Web can be a great place for a journalist. But it can also be a huge time suck as you search for relevant material turns into a three-hour hyperlink fest on (Don't do it! Just don't click through.)

Below are some research and journalism sites to get you started.

First thing you need is the California Public Records Act. Go to the site now. Print yourself a copy. is a great site to start if you want figure out where to go for information for your story. The beat source guide is particularly helpful. And if you're backgrounding someone for a profile, try the Getting the Paper page. is the online presence for the Poynter Institute, which is concerned with journalism excellence. They have many, many tips on writing better. But the most popular part is its industry gossip column, Romenesko. For L.A. media gossip, however. is the place to go.

If you're covering an upcoming election, Smart Voter is the place to go. The site hosted by the League of Women Voters can search for any ballot (presuming the ballot for that election if finalized) and includes its text, the arguments on both sides and also includes links about the measures or candidates. It's very helpful.

The General Accounting Office is a goldmine of interesting reports. This is the investigative arm of Congress and probably have audited something related to something you're writing about. It's also a great source for ideas. Check it out.

Tell me your favorite information sites by commenting to this post.


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