Happy to admit I spend way too much time on the internet.
Buzzfeed, yeah, I'm looking at you. Damn you and your "40 ways to..."
But when I'm using the internet as a news tool, what becomes key is tailoring your browser to be your partner in social sleuthing: tipping you off to new leads, checking if things add up, and ideally, not crashing regularly.
At a recent training session, after I'd demo'ed best practice for building a high octane browser (points for using a motorsport reference), I was asked to shed some light on what I use and at work and home.
Browser: Google Chrome.
The first thing I install on any machine when I use it. Google's browser wins hands down in the newsroom for many reasons: it's fast, using your Google logon is a boon for staff that hot-desk, but the greatest advantage lies in the extensions and apps a user can add to really build a powerful workspace for monitoring and working with social content.
Here's what I've added to my browser, which using the Google logon I just mentioned, means I have the same tools at my disposal at home and at work.
Chrome App: Tweetdeck for Chrome
In a March blog post, Tweetdeck (owned by Twitter) made it clear where their development priorities lie.
"We think these web and Chrome apps provide the best TweetDeck experience yet, and that they are the apps in which you’ll want to see us add new capabilities first, followed closely by our Mac and PC apps."
In fact, features are updated so quickly that I was caught out by new tricks each day of the two day training.
Tweetdeck in my mind is unrivalled as a tool for monitoring Twitter: real time updating, a powerful search tool, and easily moveable columns make it the perfect tool for journalists and producers monitoring a number of different stories across the day.
Here's my current layout, working across from left to right.
- Timeline - the tweets of those that I'm following
- A list of compiled of global breaking news accounts.
- from:abcnews OR from:abcnews24 OR from:breakfastnews - a search pulling together tweets from our main news accounts.
- emergency from:cfa_updates OR from:nswrfs OR from:tasfireservice OR from:dfes_wa OR from:qldfire OR from:cfsalerts OR from:actrfs - a search to monitor emergency bushfire alerts, by scanning the tweets from these accounts for any containing the word
- Mentions of my handle, @moonytweets
- Direct Messages
- @abcnews24 OR #abcnews24 - a search to monitor what our audience is saying about the news channel I work for, ABC News 24.
- #NX lang:en - again, another search, this time to monitor tweets about our social media show News Exchange. I've applied a filter to find only tweets in English, as it's quite a common hashtag.
- Favourites - I use it as a way to flag content (mainly longer articles) I'd like to read later or keep a record of.
Search by Image (by Google)
One of the first checks I do with images when verifying for broadcast is a reverse image search. In other words, instead of conducting a search for an image, I upload the image to a search engine to see if the image exists already elsewhere. The thought process being that if someone has just taken a photo of a freak storm, it shouldn't be elsewhere on the internet. It should be new content.
Google's Image Search made this super easy. You literally had to drag the picture file into the search field, and Google would look for that image on the web, or like images.
Now, that process got easier with a new Chrome extension, Search by Image (thanks Gary Kemble for the tipoff about this). This allows you to right click an image - on a Twitter page, on a Facebook profile, wherever - and select 'Search Google with this image'.
Website in another language? Never fear, Google Translate is here! While it's not word perfect, and can't translate written text embedded in images, it gives you enough to add to other checks when gauging the authenticity of content.
Props to my colleague Alex Lee for putting me onto this one. Awesome Screenshot is a quick way to grab a screenshot of anything in your web browser. As a journalist, a very useful tool for getting a record of sensitive content before it might be deleted.
And you can annotate screenshots too - Alex Lee again gets kudos for this artwork.
As the name implies, say farewell to ads on websites. Do you need another reason?
Over to you. If you use Chrome, I'd love to hear what extensions and apps do you use daily. Or what web tools help you in your job? Share in the comments below.