Online toolkit for citizen reporting

Jump-start your journalism with these resources for amateurs & pros

Note: Some links in the resource kit below may no longer work.

Do you need to find an expert, research your U.S. senator’s voting record or find out more information about a local nonprofit? Here are some resources to help you get started.

 

OpenCongress

www.opencongress.org

This site houses official government data, including full text of bills that are going through congress and information about votes. It
features “Bills Most Viewed,” “Bills Most Covered in the News” and “Bills Most Covered in Blogs,” as well as its own blog on congressional
happenings.

 

Sources

www.sources.com

This useful reporting tool allows you to find contact information
for experts who can be interviewed on an array of subjects for your
stories. Users can search for experts by topic, from cell biology to
patent law, or by the name of an organization and browse the list of
contacts.

 

GuideStar

www.guidestar.org

In this database of nonprofit organizations, users can search by keyword or organization name to do research on a group’s mission or programs, to verify an organization’s legitimacy, or see if donations are tax-deductible. You can also can view Forms 990, the tax return forms that the IRS requires all non-profits to file and that list such things as top salaries paid to employees. GuideStar also tracks trade organizations such as the Newspaper Association of America and the Poynter Institute.

 

FedSpending.org

www.fedspending.org

This site, created by OMB Watch, lets anyone see how the federal government is spending money. Information is divided into two databases, contracts and grants. Users can search the contracts database to see what private companies the government is paying for services, or the grants database to see who is receiving government financial assistance.

 

Washington Post Congress Votes Database

projects.washingtonpost.com/congress

This database allows users to research every vote in the United States Congress since 1991. You can learn about the voting history of any member of Congress, get the results of key votes, or see which Senator or Representative is not showing up to vote. The database is updated daily and offers RSS feeds on recent votes by your local congress member.

 

Health News Review

www.healthnewsreview.org

This database audits health and medical news stories from major news organizations, grading each story on accuracy, balance and completeness and auditing the stories for shortcomings in reporting. The most recent articles are shown on the home page and users can browse by date, source or keyword.

 

iThenticate

www.ithenticate.com

Do you need to check whether your writers are plagiarizing some of their content? This site allows you to verify the originality of documents and manuscripts. By entering the text of a document into a search, iThenticate will tell you whether it is suspiciously similar to any previously published documents.

 

Knight Science Journalism Tracker

ksjtracker.mit.edu

MIT tracks science stories each day from major newspapers and summarizes and reviews each article. Funded by the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program, the tracker allows reporters to see what their peers around the country are writing. Users can search for articles by keyword or suggest science stories that the tracker might have missed.

This directory of resources appeared originally on the Knight Citizen News Network site. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

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JD Lasica
Written by JD Lasica
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