Learning how to properly use the Internet

Before August, I mainly used the Internet for entertainment. I would spend hours on Tumblr, browse through my news feed on Facebook, and update my followers on Twitter about my whereabouts.

Although I still waste time on social media, over the past few months I have learned how to utilize the many resources that the Internet offers. I used to mainly rely on interviews for information while writing an article. Of course, some of the most valuable information you find can come from interviews. But it is important to note that there are useful records all over the Internet.

Here are some of the most helpful sources I found this semester:

1) Dogpile

Although it may seem like just another search engine, Dogpile is much more than that. The feature I liked the most on this site was the White Pages tab. This can help you find a source’s age, address and even phone number. Ever since we discussed it in class, I’ve used it countless times for my stories.

2) Lexis-Nexis Group

This site allows users to access legal and journalistic documents. It is useful to get a good idea of who you are looking into. You can find information about scandals the person has been involved with, as well as his or her education, professions and personal life.

3) Miami-Dade County Office of the Property Appraiser

For 10 years, this site has tracked the value of all property within the county for tax purposes, granting exemptions, and updating ownership and address records within the county. This is extremely helpful if your story involves real estate or businesses.

4) Social media

It’s amazing what you can find out about a person just by browsing Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Let’s say you’re looking for some background information on John Smith before an interview. All you have to do is type his name into the search bars of each social network and you’ll most likely find a match fairly quickly. Facebook and LinkedIn can offer you information about where they study/studied, live(d), work(ed), etc. Since Facebook and Twitter focus more on socializing than networking, you can find more personal information on both sites, such as birthdays, likes and dislikes, pictures, and even the profiles of friends and family. With some practice, you can learn how to utilize these sites for more than just gossiping and socializing.

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