Web tools every journalist and web-savvy should know and use

31 07 2009

I’m all about technology that saves time, money and work.

With that being said, here are a few tools that I use daily (and that journos and non alike can use) that makes life easier:Apps

1. Syncing your Twitter feeds and making your tweeting adventures shorter and sweeter. I started tweeting before tweeting was cool (and before every politician, artist, celebrity, child, dog and Oprah started using the new social media). But it wasn’t until several months ago that I started to tweet without ever once having to access their site! I don’t have to open a web browser, type in their URL, login to my profile, and then proceed with a 140 character or less update every time I want to tweet. Not only that, but I also set up my tweets to sync to my other sites like Facebook and this Web site. If you want to figure out how to do this, continue reading:

Use an app. I use the application Tweetie to post things onto my Twitter profile whenever I’m on my Macbook (they also have an an app for the iphone). Based on using it for the past several months, I think the interface is cleaner, simpler and more efficient than Twitter’s site. One of the things I love most about this application is that it shortens links I share which means I don’t have to go to a link shortening site like Tiny or Bit and do it manually. Another application I see many people use is TweetDeck. It is compatible for PC and Linux users. I’ve never used this application but its ability to manage multiple accounts and sync to other devices looks appealing. And both of these apps are free!

Sync your tweets. Friends have asked me multiple times how to do this. If you want to sync your updates to your Facebook, login and install the Twitter application to your profile. If you don’t see a message asking if you want your Twitter updates linked to your Facebook statuses, click here. Enter your login information and you’re done! This is how I thread my tweets to my Facebook page. I did learn, however, that tweets starting with “@(username)” will not get picked up. A good thing in my opinion.

Get a twitter widget for your blog or Web site. If you have a Web site and want to set up an application to stream your twitters, there’s several widgets, plug-ins and Web codes already packaged for you to use. If you use a blog service like WordPress or Blogger, they should already have a preset widget set for you that can be enabled. But Twitter did the dirty work for us and have set up widgets for you to use via HTML.

You don’t need a smart phone to tweet from your mobile. This can be especially useful if you’re a reporter on the field covering breaking news. But you don’t need a fancy iphone or a cell phone with internet access to tweet when you’re on the fly. Simply go to your Twitter account settings and under the “Devices” tab, enter your cell phone number. Once your number is set up, all you have to do is send your tweet via text message to “40404” (I saved the number as “Twitter” under my address since I frequently tweet from my mobile). There’s other options under this tab like if you want updates from people you follow on your phone or times when you don’t want them enabled. Note that Twitter only allows one mobile number to correspond to one Twitter account (and vice versa).

2. Set up a Google Reader account. This is one of the most powerful and helpful tools that Google provides. Google has now become much more than a search engine service – they have some pretty awesome and powerful tools (all free) for today’s web user, and Google Reader is one of them. Thanks to this news aggregating service, I don’t have to visit 10 different news sites to catch up on current events and track certain news trends (which is especially helpful for journalists and beat writers). Instead of me having to go find the news, the news finds me. If you already have a Google account, all you need to do is sign in with it (and if you don’t already have an account, you should). Once you log in, you can start setting up subscriptions to virtually anything (news, art, entertainment, sports, cats…you name it). You can also set up Google Alerts using the Reader (and of course, you can customize how you want Google Reader to function in settings).




One response

1 09 2009
Tools currently advancing Journalism 2.0 « Digital Journalist

[…] currently advancing Journalism 2.0 1 09 2009 As mentioned before, I’m all about technology that saves times and energy. Tools that are seamless and work for […]

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