Online research tools help investigative journalism

By DAVID FURONES

Journalists are sometimes perceived as professionals in the field of stalking. Politicians, celebrities, athletes, etc. all despise us for our annoying nature and persistence in gathering the information we need for our stories. We have an uncanny knack for making some unexpected appearances as the same public locations as our celebrity sources, and, at times, must resort to digging up some dirt on our subjects.

The whole investigative aspect of journalism has become infinitely facilitated with the Internet. By simply logging on to SearchSystems.net, journalists can attain some of the most pivotal information necessary on their subjects. Powered by Intelius, SearchSystems provides a limited free database of public records on virtually anyone imaginable in the United States, but what is even more impressive is what the site offers for a small fee.

For as little as a dollar per search, a researcher can find an individual’s full name, age, date of birth, relatives, phone number, address, address history, average income, and home value. Even more expansive is the search one can make as a member to the web site with the background report feature. With a background report, members can acquire a subject’s marriage, divorce, and death records, lawsuits, property, criminal history, aliases, bankruptcies, among a plethora of other countless interesting items on a person.

It’s rather frightening how all this information is so readily available to anyone with a buck and Internet access. Some major security issues can be encountered within this phenomenon, but this is an era of public information. We live in a democratic society where we try to be as open as genuinely possible and an inevitable byproduct of democracy is granting as many people as possible an amount of information somewhat similar to that which the political elite receive. Journalists can utilize sites such as SearchSystems as an effective tool for news gathering to be disseminated to the public so long as they don’t abuse the power granted to them from it.

About David Furones

David Furones is junior at the University of Miami majoring in journalism and sport administration. He was born and raised in Miami-Dade County and has always considered UM to be his dream school (minus the hefty tuition price). He was born to Cuban parents who immigrated to the United States (legally of course) about a year and a half before his birth. He holds aspirations for a career in sports journalism upon graduation. Furones, who loved reading the sports section and watching ESPN as a child, knew that's what he wanted to do with his life at an early age.
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