The majority of reporters (and not just multimedia journalists) are using computers to create the news. Here are some tools that make reporting just a little bit easier.
Find a meeting point
Mezzoman is a great tool for meeting sources/interviewees who aren’t nearby the newsroom. Just enter your address and the address of the person you plan to meet and the site will find a coffee shop or restaurant near a midpoint of the two locations.
The internet is full of magic and wonder that can be distracting when it’s time to buckle down and write that story. DarkCopy takes away those distractions by providing a full-screen text editor that will (hopefully) help maintain your focus.
Call-in note taker
Every reporter should carry a digital voice recorder, but Jott turns a cell phone into the next best thing. Call in notes to a special number and Jott will provide a transcript of your call.
Copy and paste made easier
Sometimes text isn’t just copied from one file to another, but from one computer to another. Rather than send it by email, use Cl1p.net to paste the text into an online notepad and pick it up on another computer. It’s incredibly simple and the text can be saved for up to seven days.
Those reporters who find themselves traveling often will appreciate flagxo, a unique site that provides information and reviews on airports around the world. Users rank factors such as power plug availability, lounges and wi-fi. For a detailed list of airports that have wi-fi available, including a list of providers and costs, check out Travel Post’s Airport Wireless Internet Access Guide.
For wi-fi outside of the airport, use hotspotr to track down the nearest wireless internet connection. Simply enter an address and the site will not only provide a map of nearby wi-fi hotspots, but list additional features of the location.
Capture written notes
Most newsrooms are equipped with an oft-used whiteboard or make available a printed laundry list of stories to appear in upcoming issue that usually become scribbled with notes. Capture those notes for posterity with Qipit. Using a camera or mobile phone, take a picture of the notes and send it to Qipit, which will in turn clean up the photo and convert the notes into an
easier easy to read PDF file.
Time and Date
The clock on the wall says 5:30, the computer says 5:27 and your cell says 5:32. When time is important, use Time and Date to be sure of the correct time. The site is also useful for determining if your 2 p.m. call from New York isn’t actually a 3 a.m. call in Tokyo.
If your typing skills range from competent to less than impressive, Learn2Type is here to help. Users can take an online typing test, print out a typing certificate or find resources to help improve their skills.
Most reporters carry some sort of day planner, whether it be digital or an old school paper version. But if there are already enough gadgets crowding your backpack, consider using Google’s online calendar for keeping tabs on future or past interviews and meetings in one safe place.
Translate is another useful Google tool (there are so many) that will help translate foreign text to English and back again in a matter of seconds. There are more than 20 languages to choose from including Spanish, Swedish and Romanian. The service should only be used for reference and not for actual translation as some native idioms will likely not be translated perfectly.
With all the instant messaging services out there (Yahoo, AIM, MSN) there is no telling which service the person you need to talk to will have. Rather than flip through several different services on your computer use meebo to log in to all your IM clients in one place. Meebo is also useful for using a computer that does not have any IM clients installed.