A lot of effort at journalism innovation has been focused around the product that our readers experience. People are doing great things to take advantage of the new storytelling forms and new ways of engaging with people that the web browser and the internet have made possible.
But I want to turn some attention to the opposite side of things. What about all the myriad tasks that lead up to writing and producing a story that represent most of the work that a reporter does? Where is the innovation that makes that work faster and easier?
What tools do people currently use?
I would love to read a series of posts similar to News.me’s “Getting the News” series but instead “Reporting the News” talking with a variety of different reporters going in-depth about their personal processes for reporting and writing stories.
Anecdotally, it seems that most reporters use some mix of the standard email, address book, web search, note taking and writing tools that are available to everyone.
But journalism is a specialized process and these are generalist tools. Surely there is room for improvement.
On the Apartment Hunt
Searching for an apartment is New York can be a long and painful process of navigating mercenary real estate brokers and misleading listings on multiple different sites. My two roommates and I have been through this process twice.
Two years ago, we kept track of our search with a Google spreadsheet of possible apartments we could find and the status of our contact with each listing. It required a lot of manual work to remove duplicates and update information.
This year, we used a new tool called Nestio.
Nestio has no apartment listings on it, it’s not a competitor for Streeteasy or Craigslist. Instead, it’s a tool for people searching for apartments to organize their search. You can add links or use a bookmarklet to save listings to it. Then it goes out and crawls that listing page and saves the photos and structures the information about the listing.
You can keep track of when you are scheduled to visit each one and who the contact is for the listing. Through their mobile app you can add additional photos and notes when you visit or update and correct the information that was scraped. And there’s a mailer that lets you send a form email to the listing broker with one click and get responses back to your email.
Nestio made the search process a whole lot easier because there was a single way to refer to all the information around each apartment we were considering.
It’s a great tool for organizing information around a single purpose: finding a great apartment. Now where’s the equivalent for reporting?