Journalist's Toolbox Update: April 24, 2014

Data Visualization: A great read and a helpful new data visualization tool: A strong piece on Aron Pilhofer and data journalism from the Tow Center. New tool: Visage.co, a browser-based tool that helps you build cool infographics. Find more resources on the Toolbox Data Visualization and Infographics page.

Data Portal Search: Open Prism lets you search data portals from all over the world by typing in one keyword.

Privacy and Protecting Sources: Here are some resources from a Reporters Without Borders privacy and encryption session on April 11. WeFightCenstorship.org's Online Survival Kit gives you tools and shows you how to protect yourself from leaving a digital trail. HideMyAss.com is a free proxy that lets you surf anonymously online, hide your IP address, secure your internet connection, hide your internet history, and protect your online identity. VirusTotal lets you run any suspicious files through a free, encrypted tool to detect any viruses. TrueCrypt is a free, on-the-fly, open-source encryption tool.

School Violence: Harvard's Journalist's Resource site has an in-depth collection on school violence that includes research findings on underlying dynamics, response and prevention. It features links, stories, analysis and a lot of data.

Twitter: Here's a great video from Mashable that gives the illustrated history of Twitter.

State of the News Media 2014: The annual Pew State of the News Media 2014 study has been released. Some interesting takes on print revenue, the role/future of news video and, of course, online and social media.

Transcription Tool: We're loving the WReally Transcribe Tool that lets you load an audio file and you can transcribe it. Fast, efficient. Great tool for reporters doing long, in-depth stories.

Photojournalism: Getty Images announced March 6 that it will be providing thousands of rights-free photos for non-commerical use, even giving users embed options. Use this Getty Embed Tool to find photos to embed, much like you would a tweet. Also, this Before and After Photo Slider JQuery Plug-in shows you how to make the popular slider tool that works well for overhead shots from Google Earth (before/after a tornado). Another popular new tool is Gramblr, which lets you upload pics to Instagram from your desktop.

Digital Verification: Two great site that help journalists figure out how to verify information online: The Verification Handbook, from Poynter's Craig Silverman, gives you tools to verify digital content for emergency coverage. Verification Junkie from Josh Stearns centralizes several social media verification tools in one place. Great for reporting and fact-checking on deadline.

Data Visualization: Code Geekz has a great set of 30 data visualization and infographic tools.

Create Interactive Videos: I recently used Hapyak to take a YouTube project one of my students did and make it interactive. You can add links, chapters, pop-up information boxes and quizzes, then re-embed the video on your web page.

Weather: If you are covering our bizarre winter/spring weather, you'll find some great resources on our Weather page.

Copy Editing: Check out Grmr.me, a great quick-reference site for grammar, punctuation and usage. It's built for English teachers but is a great resource for journalists.

Public Records: CensusReporter.org allows you to filter and sort census information. The new iFOIA.org, from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is a one-stop management tool for public-records projects and filing FOIA requests.

Mobile Journalism: Mobile Strategies for Community News and Information Resources is a great set of links, resources and tools from Amy Gahran and the Knight Digital Media Center. Another helpful tool for mobile journalists is Root Metrics, which allows you to search by ZIP code and find cell and data performance in your area. Great for studying dead zones and how your audience may (or may not) be accessing your content. Also: 21 Tips for Mobile Ninjas features apps, equipment and tools from Jeremy Caplan's ONA 13 presentation. Download and use the apps, as they're very helpful for journalists.

Social Media Shortcuts: Check out this great list of social media keyboard shortcuts that will save time on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Public Records: Five Great Tools for Mining Public Records is a must-bookmark for quick reference to some key sites, including Recovery.org and FOIAonline. Also, FOIA Shaming is a fantastic Tumblr blog that shines a spotlight on universities that stonewall FOIA requests. Share it on social media. and here area a couple of tools that can help with requesting public records and managing those requests: The FOIA Machine allows you to automate your FOIA requests. MuckRock is an open government tool powered by state and federal Freedom of Information laws and a Sunlight Foundation grant.

Medical/Health: HospitalInspections.org is a database of federal inspections of hospitals in the U.S. See how the ones in your area stack up.

Covering Congress: Find resources to track bills, voting records and more on the Federal Government page.

Teaching Journalism: From ethics to apps, the Newseum's Digital Classroom Videos cover the basics of journalism. They're great for supplementing lectures and giving students extra depth or help with a specific area of interest. SPJ's eCampus training videos also can be helpful in the classroom. You need to be a member and use your online password to access them. Topics include smartphones, FOIAs, video and social media techniques. More: 22 Apps and Tools Every College Journalism Student Should Know About and the 40 Best Blogs for College Journalists.

Teaching Copy Editing: A couple of handy tools for us "word nerds": Chicago Tribune Grammar Cheat Sheet and SPJ Pinterest: Grammar Goofs. I like to use practical examples from Grammar Goofs to lighten up editing class lectures. I also offer extra credit for students who find their own grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes, and then share them with the class. More resources: Copy Editing.

Design: A great tool for designers and developers: MarkupWandA tool that takes Photoshop .psd files and converts them to embeddable to HTML or CSS code. A huge time-saver.

Religion: The Religion Newswriters Association has compiled a comprehensive Religion Stylebook, which serves as an independent supplement to The Associated Press Stylebook.

Census Resources: The U.S. Census Quick Facts page helps you find current census information at the state or county level by using a pulldown menu or image map. The what's new tab at the top of the page shows all of the new data entered at the local levels.

Mobile Journalism: The Mobile Apps Gallery lists government-created mobile apps on hundreds of topics and services, ranging from weather to public works.

Gas Prices: Mapquest has a page to track gas prices in your area. Use resources in the Toolbox's Business Resources section to track the housing market , gas prices, food costs and other economic issues.

Social Trends: Pew Social Trends is full of social demographics and stats. It's a great resource for localizing these national/global trends in your community, as it has stats down to the local level.

College Media: The J-School Legal blog offers resources for journalism schools that are news providers. A must-bookmark for college editors and advisers.

Journalism Jobs: JournaJobs provides listings from all over Europe and a few in the U.S. Use News Nerd Jobs to sort through a great list of news developer jobs. MediaJobPod.org is tailored to college students looking for multimedia jobs and internships. Find more resources on the Journalism Jobs page.

Federal Government: Here's a helpful site: Directory of All Congressional Twitter Handles. USA.gov: Mobile Apps is a handy list of which government agencies have mobile apps and mobile Web sites. Great quick-reference.

Broadcasting: 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.

Politics: The National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization revealing the influence of campaign money on state-level elections and public policy in all 50 states, has a comprehensive and verifiable campaign-finance database available for free on its site. 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.

Writing With Numbers: 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.

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.

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.

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