Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Adding More Power: Digital Tools Available Now to Simplify Every Journalist's Job

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Adding More Power: Digital Tools Available Now to Simplify Every Journalist's Job

Article excerpt


Technology has done a lot to harm newspapers in recent years, but in its wake of disruption it has left behind a host of powerful tools that journalists 15 years ago couldn't even have imagined using.

The sheer amount of tech-sounding names and promising new ventures can easily make it overwhelming for the average newsroom employee to dive in, especially considering the high rate of failure when it comes to digital news innovation. I mean, do your bosses even care about Tumblr anymore?

Among the most popular columns I've written for Editor & Publisher was a simple overview of five digital tools that I use often that aren't called Facebook or Tweetdeck. I'm constantly getting notes from reporters and producers at organizations across the country tipping me off to cool apps and interesting tools that I never would have come across otherwise.

So, think of this month's column as my attempt to "pay it forward." In fact, I still use two tools I gave a spotlight to in my previous column on nearly a daily basis, and they are worth touting again.

The first is Call Recorder, a simple paid app for the Mac (sorry PC users) that allows incoming calls via Skype to be recorded with a click of the button. It also allows you to easily convert the audio of the calls to MP3 and convert them to internet-ready movies, allowing reporters to include an engaging bit of multimedia in their stories very easily.

The second is oTranscribe. So far, I've been unwilling to spring for a paid program that transcribes audio for me, but oTranscribe is the next best thing. Basically it's a free website where you upload your sound file and can use easy shortcut keys to pause, rewind or slow down the audio while you transcribe on a single web tab.

Here are four other tools (well, three tools and a hack) that have been recommended to me by journalists over the past year that I now use regularly when reporting. I hope they make your job a tad bit easier.


Tools like and Chartbeat are great, but at the moment, I am completely addicted to CrowdTangle. It's an analytics platform that tracks the performance of articles in your market across the most popular social media websites, including often-overlooked venues like Linkedln and Pinterest. Not only can you see how your stories are performing in real time, CrowdTangle also allows you to see what content is trending in your market that was created by someone else, including your competitors.

Told you it was cool.

To get CrowdTangle's beefier newsroom analytics, you have to sign up through your newsroom (don't worry--it's free, thanks to Facebook's purchase last November). But their Link Checker is available to anyone and remarkably easy to use, provided you use Chrome. Basically you just download and install the Chrome plugin, and it will show up as an icon in the top right of your browser until you're ready to use it.

Once you open your story, click on the plugin's icon and an overlay will appear that shows how many social interactions, referrals and sources shared your story. It even displays how many Facebook timelines the stoiy ended up in. I've even found a source or two for my own reporting by being able to see when an influencer shared one of my stories (or if I'm being completely honest, a competitor's stoiy on my beat).


This is another free Chrome plugin (sorry, Firefox users) that I've become addicted to over the past six months. …

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