Google is a sort of one-stop shop for all your Internet needs, and it even has a feature, Google Alerts, that journalists can utilize as an effective story finding tool.
Google Alerts can be set up to deliver news right into your inbox or rss feed, so it instantly updates you on the topics you’ve chosen to follow. What this means for journalists is it’s possible to be connected to the issues on your beat or events needing coverage just in general.
But just because you’re getting alerts from Google, it’s important not to forget that a journalist has to always be alert and open to finding a story idea wherever it may be hidden. The story from the link above shows that even when the majority of a newsroom is connected to Google Alerts, it will still be the reporter who has ALL eyes and ears open who will get the story.
The writer of the Jim Morrison story had his alerts set to web, not just news, just one extra sense open to finding news, and he wound up with a good story because of it.
Alerts aren’t just useful for finding stories. They seem to be popular in the business world for things like watching competitors, tracking keywords and linkbuilding.
Bloggers are similar to a small business in some ways, so in addition to finding topics, the above Google Alert tools would benefit a blogger the way it does a business.
Google Alerts can even be set up to send you relevant videos. This feature is useful because finding videos and images can sometimes be a forgotten component of blogging and story writing for the web.
For networking and promoting your writing, linking to videos will also alert the person hosting the video so you’ll possibly get a link back from the producer of the video.
That networking relates back to finding stories. It’s fun when the unlimited capabilities of the Internet circle around and it all gels and makes sense, and you’re really using those cababilities rather than getting overwhelmed by them.