Considering my last post, about how I track my own stories, I figure it would be good to have another post on how I go about finding story ideas on the internet (yes I spell internet with a lowercase i, to find out why go here.
The exchange of information on the internet can seem chaotic at times, but there are ways to find new and original ideas. It requires more than just google and mainstay media outlets like the NYT. It’s good to use these tools to find out what’s going on, but one thing I’ve learned is that editors hate when you pitch them yesterday’s news, and they loose respect for writers who do that.
Searching the web proper is one thing and requires its own post, but what’s more difficult to do is searching the blogosphere. Where do you start? What is reliable and what’s making waves?
To find hidden secrets in the depths of the blogosphere I use aggregators. By exploring these tunnels you can begin to find new interesting and reliable blogs.
The first of these, for tech-journalism at least, was the user generated Slashdot. But to be honest I never really liked it. It has a bad interface and is difficult to search. It can also be flooded with links that I just don’t find interesting. The new Digg.com is better, I especially like it’s google-like aesthetic. Also, check out Digg.com/q to find digg submitted stories that haven’t made it to the home page yet (the most raw links on the internet). My only overarching complaint is that these sites focus strictly on tech and while this has been the focus of my journalistic endeavors, I want to expand.
Enter Memeorandum, which has both a tech and a politics section. This site uses algorithms (not user generated content) to find the latest blog entries that are being linked to. It’s a good way to find different blogs that have something to say.
This is, of course, just a way to start and it’s only what has helped me. I’m sure everybody has their own method and you should stick with what works for you. Sometimes even blind surfing can lead you to the best little treasures. Serendipity I believe they call it.