Links, Mobile, Multimedia, Social Media, Teaching, Tips, Tools

Journalist’s Toolbox Updated for #spj10

This post was originally published on the Journalist’s Toolbox, a resource offered by the Society of Professional Journalists. It was republished here with permission.

SPJ National Convention

Some great links from Jeff Cutler’s online tools session and others on Monday: for mining story ideas; Advanced for detailed Twitter and hashtag searches and WalletPop, a finance site that helps you find the most dangerous neighborhoods for crime. More to come later in the convention!

Add SPJ National Convention

The Journalist’s Toolbox will post tweets live Oct. 3-5 from the convention in Las Vegas. Just follow @journtoolbox and the #spj10 hashtag.

Copy Editing Resources

It’s not the fanciest site on the Web, but has a great quick-reference page. Another helpful tool: Thsrs, the shorter thesaurus, which produces shorter synonyms for any word you type in. It’s a very helpful tool for writing short, tight headlines.

Twitter Resources

We’ve added dozens of new resources, including Twitter guides for journalists, backgrounds, URL shorteners and other tools on the Toolbox’s Twitter Resources page.

Mobile Journalism Resources

The Toolbox has launched a Mobile Journalism page that features links to app-making tools, readings on mobile media strategy and a list of recommended apps for journalists to use on their smart phones.


ZIP Code Zoo is a site that Marylaine Block pointed out on her site Neat New Stuff on the Net: This site helps you identify animals, plants, birds, butterflies and more in your area. Just type in your ZIP Code.

Federal Government Mobile Apps is a handy list of which government agencies have mobile apps and mobile Web sites. Great quick-reference.

Hurricane Coverage

Track news and find helpful tools for covering hurricane season on the Toolbox’s Weather page.


Poligraft is a Sunlight Foundation site that adds political context to news stories by scanning news articles you enter for the names of donors, corporations, lobbyists and politicians and shows how they are connected by contributions. It’s a free site and a very helpful tool for doing research.

FOI Resources

A recent issue of Quill magazine listed some helpful sites for developing FOI-related story ideas. You can find those sites and more in the Toolbox’s Public Records and Investigative sections.

Cool Tool

EveryTimeZone is a helpful site that lists your local time with other time zones and major cities. No more time zone math! The site is also a cool use of HTML5 (no Flash) and can be used on an iPhone and iPad.

Global Reporting Tools

The RAND Corporation has an International Affairs Research section, a federally funded documents center that has a variety of links, reports and resources on global issues. Related Resources: Global Reporting Tools.

Gas Prices

You can track rising gas prices with several Toolbox resources. Mapquest has a page to track gas prices in your area. gives estimates on individual home values. Use resources in the Toolbox’s Business Resources section to track the housing market , gas prices, food costs and other economic issues. Related Resources: Personal Finance and Labor sections.

Stock Markets

Use tools in the Business Resources section to track the daily changes in the markets.

Public Records: Use the Federal Procurement Data System to search for government reports, contracts, databases, etc. The site requires a log-in.


The Education Writer Association’s site tracks education spending across the country. It’s full of data, sources and other helpful research. It’s a must-bookmark for all education reporters.


The Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has released a report on the ethics of nonprofit journalism. The report is a collaboration of three centers: the UW ethics center, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Knight Chair in Investigative & Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois. Related Resources: Toolbox Ethics Page.

General Resources

What Happened in My Birth Year is a cool tool for framing economic and social issues around specific dates and years. It’s helpful for feature writing and offbeat stories.

Online Tools

Purdue University has a great list of Web 2.0 Tools on a single page. Great quick-reference.

Global Issues

Foreign Policy Blogs from the Foreign Policy Association is a great bookmark for anyone covering foreign affairs.

Copy Editing

Crash Blossoms: Headlines Gone Wrong is a great site that highlights awful headlines and implied meanings. A must-bookmark for copy editors and teachers.

Social Media Guidelines for Journalists

The Radio TV Digital News Association has released its Social Media Guidelines for journalists.

Terrorism Resources

Find helpful links in the 9-11 Terrorist Attacks, Public Safety-Airlines and Military-Terrorism sections.

Multimedia Editing Tools:, a mobile site, has assembled a list of more than 30 free multimedia editing tools. These are great tools for teaching, can be accessed off any computers browser and don’t require a download like Audacity and many other free editors. We’ve found Aviary’s Myna Audio Editor to be a great substitution for Audacity and Garage Band. Also, The Society for News Design has a great multimedia toolkit with many free resources.

Journalism Jobs is tailored to college students looking for multimedia jobs and internships. Watch imbedded videos from professionals on how to approach the job hunt, interview, write cover letters, etc. If you are interested in Web reporting/production or TV production, take advantage of the advice on this free site, developed by journalism instructors at Kent State University.

State Government

Library of Congress: State Digital Resources Includes memory projects, online encyclopedias, history and cultural materials.


Find the correct pronunciations of newsmaker names
at The Name Engine. Another great resource is the EarIt Demo, which allows you to roll over a name or word and get the correct pronunciation.

Journalism Jobs

Find job-hunting resources, organized by specific media and positions, in the Toolbox’s Jobs section.

YouTube Reporters Center

The YouTube Reporters Center offers tips and advice targeted to citizen journalists, but the resources are helpful to student and professional journalists as well. The site launched with a great video from Politifact, the Pulitzer-winning site from the St. Petersburg Times. The video covered fact-checking basics for reporters and editors, with warnings about using Wikipedia.

The Economy

BankTracker, from MSNBC and American University School of Communication, is a new site that reviews bank statements and tracks trends in the constantly changing banking industry. has posted a helpful image-map and database that helps you research how the stimulus package affects your state. It’s great quick-reference for looking up what projects are scheduled to receive stimulus money. Also, Read the Stimulus offers tips on how to interpret the stimulus package. Related Resources: Economic Crisis section.

Military is a social networking forum geared toward U.S. troops, families and anyone looking for military connections. The site can be helpful for networking and finding personal/family-generated stories in your area. Military Records offers thousands of records, old newsreels, etc. You can search by war, era or follow a timeline of events to find the information.

Writing With Numbers converts measurements, distances, weights, etc. into objects to which a reader can relate. Weird Converter is great for analyzing numbers and coming up with odd facts and figures for stories. It’s great for comparing sizes, weights and gives the reader some perspective. Find more resources in the Toolbox’s Writing With Numbers section.

Covering People With Disabilities

You’ll find hundreds of resources on the Disabilities page.

Free Speech/First Amendment

We’ve added several new resources to the Free Speech/First Amendment page.


The Toolbox’s Jobs section features dozens of journalism job databases and search resources. They’re organized by news, sports, photography, PR, etc.

Just for Fun

Check out the Cool Sites page for funny, offbeat web tools. The Strange News archive shows that fact truly is stranger than fiction.

Chuck Shepherd’s News of the Weird blog also has offbeat news stories.

Teaching Tools

Many of you who use this site train your newsrooms and classrooms how to do online research: College Media, High School Journalism, Design, Broadcast Journalism, Ethics, Writing, Reporting Tools, Writing with Numbers, Photojournalism and Copy Editing.

Reporting Tools

Reporting Tools, Phone/E-Mail/Maps Directories, Search Engines, Expert Sources, Investigative, Form 990s, Public Records, Ethics, Check Domain Names, General Research and Writing With Numbers.

Editing and Fact-Checking Resources

The Toolbox’s Copy Editing page has several new resources. The American Copy Editors Society has assembled a collection of 49 online quizzes about everything from AP Style and usage to Iraq and the Middle East. Related Resources: Copy Editing, General Research, History, Domain Sites and Writing With Numbers.

Writing with Statistics

Test your skills with IRE’s interactive math quiz. After you’ve taken the test, click on the link at the bottom of the page to find out how to arrive at the correct answers. You’ll find more resources like this one on the Writing with Numbers page. Related Resources: Spreadsheets, Business Resources, Personal Finance and Federal Government: Census Data.

Student Resources

College and high school students will find many helpful Toolbox resources for researching papers, reporting and more: Reporting Tools, Public Records, History, Ethics and Copy Editing.