Case Study 4: Google Alerts

11 Feb

When every conceivable kind of information is available instantaneously to anyone with an Internet connection and shrewd search skills, it can be immensely difficult to narrow the heavy stream of information to an easily understood trickle. Tools such as Google Alert make streamlining the information wave easier by allowing users to pick out only the topics they really want information on. No longer do users have to sift through pages of irrelevant or uninteresting news; they can sign up to receive Google Alert for only those topics or keywords they care about.

Google Alert can be a great tool for journalists attempting to keep in touch with the needs of their readers. Beat reporters can plug in general keywords related to their beat, set Google Alert to tell them when it pops up on the Internet and keep up with the buzz surrounding it. Receiving an alert can be the jumping-off point that gets a story idea going, or it can add insight to a story in progress. It also saves reporters a tremendous amount of time that they would be spending manually searching various sites for relevant information.

There is also a feedback advantage to Google Alert. Tracking your name and blog can be an easy way of finding out what people are saying about your posts, and it can help generate followup stories.

When fans of Jim Morrison appealed to former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to posthumously pardon him, a reporter was tipped off by a Google Alert set to search the Web. This is an example not only of how the tool can help reporters uncover off-beat (and potentially huge) stories, but also of how it can be used most effectively: Had the reporter not had his alerts set for the Web, he would have most likely missed out on the story.

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One Response to “Case Study 4: Google Alerts”

  1. Ronald R. Rodgers February 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    Excellent re Rubric – well written and edited.

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