Researching Businesses and Non-Profits

Public and Private Companies


Public Companies are U.S. companies that have issued securities through an initial public offering (IPO), which are traded on a stock exchange or market.


Private Companies in the United States are not regulated by the federal government, except for the requirements of legal agreements, such as the leasing of equipment or ownership of property which are a matter of public record.  It is at the discretion of a private company if, and what, they decide to disclose about their business operations.

fyi:  Forbes annual list of America’s Largest Private Companies 2016 is a good reference source.


Public Company Info

The Securities and Exchange Commission requires all public companies in the U.S. to disclose specific details about their operations and securities offerings in documents known as SEC filings. These filings provide a clear view of a company’s history, current activities and strategic plans and are the most complete source of essential company information.  

SEC Company Filings Search  Sample Query:  Zulily, Inc.


7 Key SEC Filings: 


  • Registration Statement: Often referred to as the Form S-1 (k.a. Initial Public Offering (IPO) filings, and Prospectus). Filed when a company issues stock; requisite for all new companies. Loaded with useful information; usually contains a detailed description of how the business operates, its history, management, financial condition, the CEO’s employment contract, information about the amount and location of real properties owned by the corporation.


  • 8-K  Current reports on all matters of importance in the current life of the corporation: movement of executives or directors; corporate changes, merger announcements; litigation news, etc. The SEC requires immediate disclosure (1-3 days from occurrence) for certain events – restated earnings, bankruptcy, acquisitions or disposition of assets, and departures or executive appointments.


  • 10-Q  Filed at the end of each of the first three quarters, it’s the precursor to the 10-K; details the company’s latest developments and provides a preview of the direction leadership plans to take the company.


  • 10-K  Filed annually at the end of the 4th quarter, the 10-K provides the most comprehensive analysis of the company. Describes domestic and international operations, business segments, history, real estate, supply chain, patents, licenses, litigation, R&D, competition & employees.  Includes audited financial statements and information about the leadership – top management bios, including prior work history and current board activity.  Also includes the CEO’s explanation of the company’s financial condition and operations; excellent source of intelligence about corporate strategy and market competitors.  If the company is too new to have filed a 10-K, then the Form S-1 is a fine substitute.


  • 13-G (a.k.a.Beneficial Ownership): Any outside investor who purchases 5% or more of a company’s stock is required to complete a Form 13-G.


  • Proxy Statement (DEF-14A)– official notification of matters voted on at the annual shareholders’ meeting; includes compensation (salary, bonus, stock options) for company management; salaries and bios of board members, corporate committee membership and scope, and more.


  • 20-F – The 10-K equivalent for foreign companies trading on a U.S. stock exchange. (For more foreign company information, use online company site or a fee-based service such as Thomson ONE.)


TIP:  If a required SEC document is not filed on time or not filed at all, this is a red flag.  Check Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, the online publications library in either Nexis or Factiva to see if there is news associated with this event.


In addition to the SEC, here are two premium web products that include information on private and foreign companies.  Available via the J-School Database list


Mergent​​​ contains company reports, both domestic and international, executive bios, shares held by institutional holders, annual reports and more.   Sample Query: Nestle S.A., Koch Industries, KS


Hoover’s Academic  A full subscription features in-depth information on over 40,000 public, private, U.S., and international companies covered by Hoover’s industry experts; includes coverage of more than 600 industries.   Sample Query: BP (British Petroleum), Koch Industries, Fresh Direct


Additional Sources of Company/Industry Information

Earnings Call Transcripts is a free searchable online source for discussion of the financial results of a reporting period by executives of publicly held companies. Done by way of an 800 number and on the internet.


Newswires ​​via AP, Reuters, DJNewswire, Agence France Press…EDITED by someone outside the company; includes information released by the company, but may also include additional relevant information; provides a level of objectivity. 


Press Releases​​ via PRNewswire, Businesswire, M2Presswire are directly from the company; keep in mind, there’s no editing; selling image; CAVEAT!


Companies are required to file papers of incorporation with the office of the Secretary of State in the state where their business will be conducted, e.g. New York State’s Corporation and Business Entity Database includes business and not for profit corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships, as well as other miscellaneous businesses.  No financial data is available.

Lawsuits ​​​​are also a good way to sleuth for information, especially about private companies.  Use the following resources for lawsuits filed in Federal, State or Local courts:

  • Federal​​​​ Courts – P.A.C.E.R (Assistance available in the J-School research center)
  • NYS Civil Supreme Court​​​ – case information. Try a sample search using Rite Aid as one of the parties in the case.


Other countries like the U.K. and Canada have their own institutions for company filings:

There’s always a story to be told about corporate influence on elections and government business.


Researching Non-Profits


Section 501(c) of the IRS Code defines nonprofit charitable tax exempt organizations; most nonprofits fall under section 501(c)3 

Form 990 is the annual reporting return that certain tax exempt organizations must file with the IRS.

Like the Form 10K which publicly held companies must file annually, the Form 990 provides information on the nonprofit’s mission, programs and finances. Here’s a good tutorial on How to Read the New IRS Form 990, courtesy of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York.


Guidestar is a 501(c)3 public charity that collects information about IRS-registered nonprofit organizations.  Best source for information about nearly 2 million nonprofits. Information available about each nonprofit’s mission, finances, programs, governance, and more.  If you’re doing a quick search or need only a little information, use the free basic search.  GuideStar Premium is available via the J-School Database List andSecure Login protocols.  Please remember to Logout when you’ve completed your search.  For more extensive research and analysis, subscribe to GuideStar Premium Pro.  Sample Search:  Oxford House; Association of Black Foundation Executives

Guidestar’s Highlights of IRS Form 990 

Useful Guidestar Tips 


CitizenAudit  Search 15 years of nonprofits  (including foundations, hospitals, universities, political groups & more) form 990s for every charity that files them. Search by organization name, or search for any word or person within the body of documents.  (J-School access with Secure Login protocols.) Please remember to Logout when you’ve completed your search.


Investigating Charities – International Consortium of Investigative Journalists


Dig deeper into a nonprofit’s finances – Center for Investigative Reporting provides a guide to help in examining the financial statements of nonprofits.


ProPublica’s free 990 Explorer  Search over 1.8 million tax returns for tax-exempt organizations and see financial details such as their executive compensation, revenues and expenses.  You can browse raw IRS data released since 2013 and access tax filing documents going back as far as 2001.



Charity Navigator — good financial evaluations of nonprofits


Which organizations are not required to file the Form 990?

  • Faith-based organizations
  • State institutions
  • Nonprofits that have not received tax-exempt status
  • Subsidiary organizations whose corporate bodies have already filed



Social Media Research and Verification

Anthony De Rosa, Digital Production Manager of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and former Editor in Chief for Circa the first media organization focused on producing news for mobile consumption, once said:


“The first thought of the shooter is usually not: ‘I need to share this with a major TV news network’ because they don’t care about traditional television news networks or more likely they’ve never heard of them. They have, however, heard of the Internet and that’s where they decide to share it with the world.”


The marriage of the consumer, the smartphone and the ability to film and share pictures and video of events occurring around them via social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, has ushered in a paradigm shift in the way we report, receive and consume news and information.  These days, ‘Journalist’ Jane or Jim is less likely to send photos/film to news organizations than to upload and share eyewitness records of breaking news events; and research evidence is confirming the fact that more and more, the reading, and viewing audience are making the social media landscape the port of first call for news and information.

The latest data lends supporting credibility to the rise of this new media environment and of these so-called ‘accidental journalists’:

  • YouTube users watch 5 billion videos each day.
  • Twitter sends 500 million tweets each day
  • Facebook shares 4.75 billion pieces of content daily (2013 data) 


Journalists are increasingly looking to harness the resources of social media networks to report, research, find sources and contacts, find interview prospects and to go all out in the attempt to reach the largest audience, and to add timeliness and value to their published work.

Whether deliberately of by accident, the social media arena of breaking news provides rich soil for false or erroneous reporting; as journalists, you are expected to bring to the social media table, all the requisite skepticism you so doggedly employ when using the traditional research tools of your trade.  Best practices demand you start from the premise that all content you find need to be verified.


Before you make the decision to publish user generated content (UCG) gathered via social media, authoritative voices, such as those found in the most valuable Verification Handbook, insist that you ask and bust your chops to answer these four basic questions:

Is this the original piece of content?

Run checks on any photo or video you find on social media; make sure it is real before using it in your story. Take advantage of reverse image search tools such as TinEye or Google Images  to determine whether a photo has been posted online previously, photoshopped or is a fake.

Most videos come with a description, tag, comment or some piece of identifying text. Look for acronyms, place names and other pronouns that would make good keywords in a search. Cut and paste foreign language descriptions into Google Translate  

FYI:  How To Use Reverse Image Search

Who uploaded the content? (source)

You’re batting a thousand if you can verify who uploaded the YouTube/Twitter/Facebook video or photo.  Some people list a great deal of information on their social profiles, and having a real name (especially one that is not too common) can be akin to hitting the jackpot on a slot machine.  Take a good look at the profile; Facebook and Twitter have added blue verification checks to the profile of many celebs, government officials, journalists and other well-known persons.  For those of us who populate the ‘other’ group, look for linked websites, status updates, previous tweets, date the page was created, friends, followers…  A YouTube profile with the barest of personal information, but one which includes a website URL can be paired with a product like WhoIs to reveal an individual’s address, email and personal telephone number.

When was the content created? (date)

Verifying the date of a piece of video can be one of the most difficult elements of verification.  Some people who frequently share video and/or photos on social media, will often include a newspaper from that day with the date clearly visible.  Using information about the weather on a particular day can also be helpful.  The WolframAlpha search engine is a cool and useful tool for checking the weather; a simple search, “What was the weather in Port-au-Prince on March 15, 2017” will return the result you seek. This can be combined with tweets and data from local weather forecasters, as well as other uploads from the same location on the same day, to cross-reference weather.

If you are attempting to verify the date of a YouTube video, look directly below the search bar for the Filters menu and select Upload Date.  Keep in mind that YouTube uses Pacific Standard Time in its date stamps, so video will appear to have been uploaded before an event took place.

Where was the content created? (location)

Verifying the location of social media content is a very important requisite before going to print or uploading that photo or video; not all social media is geolocated and it’s always more difficult, when the imaging is out of date, for example in war-torn countries or in places that experienced natural disasters – earthquakes or flooding, e.g. Twitter provides the option to include ‘location’ on the advanced search page, but the experts say it is not foolproof.

Many uploaders who are aware of the challenges of verification often pan upward before or after filming some footage to identify a building that could be located on a map, whether that’s a tall tower, a minaret or cathedral, or signpost. This is partly a result of news organizations’ asking activist groups to do this, as well as activists themselves sharing advice about best practice when uploading UGC.

The Verification Handbook  offers some practical ways to attempt to certify location; I’ve pasted some of them here, and I encourage you to read Chapter 9 (Creating a Verification Process and Checklist(s))

  • Find reference points to compare with satellite imagery and geolocated photographs, such as:
    • Signs/lettering on buildings, street signs, car registration plates, billboards, etc. Use Google Translate or for online translation.
    • Distinctive streetscape/landscape such as mountain range, line of trees, cliffs, rivers, etc.
    • Landmarks and buildings such as churches, minarets, stadiums, bridges, etc.
      • Use Google Street View or Google Maps’ “Photos” function to check if geolocated photographs match the image/video location.
      • Use Google Earth to examine older images/videos, as it provides a   history of satellite images. Use Google Earth’s terrain view.
  • Use Wikimapia, the crowdsourced version of Google Maps, to identify landmarks.
  • Weather conditions such as sunlight or shadows to find approximate time of day. Use Wolfram Alpha to search weather reports at specific time and place.
  • License/number plates on vehicles
  • Clothing

Source:  Verification Handbook.  


If you’re caught in the grip of a breaking news story, and are desperate to contact a source(s), if you have a name, then, for starters, consider the J-School’s paid version of Spokeo which mines social networks and public records data to return search results that usually include email addresses, telephone numbers, usernames and relatives, or  Thatsthem; its free search helps you to find the person with the information you have (username, email, phone number) they may each prove quite useful in quickly finding your subject’s social media footprint.

TIP:  The content of public records databases will always be there; not so for social media content.  In times of controversy, scandal, inappropriate comments – disappearing tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram images, and even personal sites and pages are more the norm than the exception. Go after those social media profiles first – grab that screen or snap shot asap.

Barbara Gray’s tipsheet suggests:

  • captures your web research in a single hub you can access anywhere. Download the Web Clipper for Chrome, it will take a snapshot of a page and file it in your notes.


Using Facebook for Reporting and Newsgathering

Facebook’s subscribers have populated their pages with nuggets from their lives that provide rich color, and are the very tools the intrepid journalist can use to get information about a source, and this information can often be transferred to other social platforms:

name, hometown, phone, email, username, current and past employment, aliases, family members, friends, birthday, posts, photos, groups, likes, current and previous residence, schools attended, sexual preference, gender, relationship, anniversary, languages, places visited, events attended or plan to attend, networks.  This is good grist for the journalist

Use the Facebook search bar at the top of your Facebook page to search for connections between people and things.  Search by name, school, workplace, friends, interests, etc.  Searches profiles, pages, public posts, check-ins, photo captions, etc.

Facebook Custom Search This custom search tool can be used to search Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and most recently YouTube social networks; simply select the network and enter your search criteria.  Find people by name, education, employment, groups they are members of, etc.  Best used as a Chrome add-on in your tool bar.

Don’t forget about Google’s superior search engine which allows you to search for text within links and URLs.  Use the ‘site’ operator and add keywords, or names.


If you are trying to contact someone who is a member of a closed group, e.g. Polar Bear Friends, try messaging or friending the group’s administrator and ask that he/she post a query for you.


Twitter Reporting and Newsgathering Search Tools

Those of you who are familiar with Google’s Advanced Search page will feel quite at home with Twitter Advanced Search Page.  Take full advantage of this template to help you filter your searches by location, user, date.


Tagged on the site as ‘a smarter way to search Twitter’, TwXplorer (sign in with your Twitter protocols) lets you find tweets on topic, and that’s where the similarities with a traditional Twitter search end.  The results of a TwXplorer search show the most recent tweetscommonly used terms, hashtags and the mostly frequently shared links.  TwXplorer also offers the option to search Twitter Lists you have created or are subscribed to.  A great way to stay current with news about your beats.  When you click on any term, hashtag or link in your search result, TwXplorer returns only the subset of search results containing the term you clicked on.  The ‘saved snapshots’ option helps you (especially with breaking news) to save your search for later viewing.


It’s all about connections.  Compare/analyze followers and friends with TwiangulateThis tool can prove quite useful if you are following a particular beat, and want to add valuable sources to your Twitter List.



A list is a curated group of Twitter users. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the users on that list.

Note: Lists are used for reading Tweets only. You cannot send or direct a Tweet to members of a list, for only those list members to see.

To create a list:  

  1. Go to your Lists page. This can be done via your profile picture drop down menu in the top right navigation bar or by going to your profile page and clicking on Lists, also in the right hand navigation bar.
  2. Click Create list.
  3. Enter the name of your list, a short description of the list, and select if you want the list to be private (only accessible to you) or public (anyone can subscribe to the list).   Name: BK12     Description:  Useful Information for Residents of Brooklyn’s Community District 12
  4. Click Save list. 

You can now comb Twitter for persons with expertise or organizations with similar interest and add same to your list(s).

TwitterTip: If you add someone to a list but DON’T follow them, they will not receive a notification that they have been added to a list and will not know that they are being monitored via a list.  Really helpful if you are doing investigative reporting.


Tweetdeck Twitter’s social media dashboard is a lovely housekeeping tool.  If you have more than one account, you no longer need to sign in separately to your accounts, nor do you need to send posts separately.  TweetDeck lets you create columns to display specific content from Twitter that interest you – Twitter Lists, Mentions…the results of a search query, a list of favorites, the latest Tweets from a hashtag or trend, etc.  With Tweetdeck, you can watch tweets from people you follow (in real time), and interact with your followers as well.  Use it to manage your Facebook account(s)as well.  Sign in with your personal Twitter account to get started.


All My Tweets

A useful tool for the investigative reporter is All My Tweets.  Sign in with your Twitter account; enter a username, and search for all of a user’s tweets on one page.  Option available to filter out retweets and to hide replies


 Hashtags:  First Use

Are you trying to find the first time that a popular hashtag was used on Twitter?  Have a go at Who Tweeted it First – search keywords or a link to see who tweeted it first.


First Tweets

Looking for someone’s first tweet?  If it’s a public profile, MyFirstTweet  will find it. This link shows the result of a search for Barbara Gray’s first tweet.  



Best practices suggest a search of Google, using the ‘site’ function, to find pictures/photos of (breaking) news events that have been posted on Instagram.

If the Instagram account holder has a Twitter account, a link will usually be provided; easy way to send a tweet requesting additional information, an interview, or permission to use the photo. 


LinkedIn Social Search

  • Join LinkedIn for Journalists
  • Advanced search (must be logged in to use this direct link) can search by keyword, name, location, current or past employees
  • Alumni search can search for classmates at a certain school, during a certain time period
  • If you can’t see a name in a profile on Twitter or LinkedIn try an “X-Ray Search” – just copy and paste the details from their profile into Bing or Google



More Verification Tools & Techniques


Advanced Back-Grounding For Reporting

Advanced back-grounding requires more than a general sweep for names, addresses and telephone numbers; that exercise always occurs at the start of every effort.  But the activity with which one is engaged when attempting to do advanced back-grounding commands greater scrutiny, knowledge of available resources, and a willingness to lift the carpet and sift for nuggets of valuable data and information.


Find Contacts/Family/Neighbors

Social Media

If you’re working on the cheap, then social media networks are an intuitive and familiar first stop.  Spokeo assembles and organizes white pages, public records and social networks’ information.  The free version usually provides sparse information- name/address, maybe; with a subscription, one can find phones and emails and social media footprints.  As a J-School student, you have access to a paid version of Spokeo; check your email for a registration notice from Spokeo.

You can also avail yourself of Facebook Twitter / LinkedIn, especially when going after contacts for family, friends, neighbors, verifying employment, colleagues or classmates.

Looking for a good source for verifying a source’s academic credentials? Call the university’s registrar’s office or try the fee-based National Student Clearinghouse.


Public and Property Records 

If you have the basic contact information, and are considering your next move, then delving into public records resources that offer more information about your person of interest is a good second step.

NETRonline is a portal to official state web sites, and to the tax assessors’ and recorders’ offices that have developed web sites for the retrieval of available public records over the internet.  When you hear the term ‘tax assessors’ or ‘recorders’, think property records – valuable repositories of additional personal information.

Some recorders’ offices have marriage and birth records available online, and while not every county and parish has data online, many have home pages, and where neither is available a phone number has been provided.

Let’s have a look at the type of backgrounding information which may be retrieved from the Kings County Public Records?


If you lose your link to NETRonlineget acquainted with the NYC Department of Finance Property Records and in particular, ACRIS (short for Automated City Register Information System.)

All property sales in New York City and its boroughs are a matter of public record.  Anyone can look up information about deeds, past sale prices and mortgage info for specific properties. Records go back to 1966, but you will probably have to visit the City Register in order to retrieve older (pre 1993) documents.

Want to know whether your subject is current with his/her property tax payments? Have your address or BBL (borough, block lot data) ready to search your subject’s account history.


If you’ve got a few bucks in the treasury, then Accurint public records database is a great jumping off point when going after background on relatives, neighbors, property, past/present employment, professional licenses, bankruptcy, death, divorce, criminal record… (See Barbara in the J-School Research Center – she’ll search for you).

In Class Drill


Reference USA is another valuable backgrounding tool; in addition to its datasets of company information, RefUSA’s datasets of Standard White Pages are quite valuable when trying to find neighbors.  Available via the J-School database list.

Tax Warrants

If someone owes taxes to the State of New York, a Tax Warrant , which is a lien against your property (including personal property), is the State’s legal action against you.  These warrants are initially filed with the county clerk, and are a matter of public record; warrants are later filed with NYS Department of State.  Searchers are encouraged to search in the offices of the appropriate county clerk(s) to determine the most recent status of filing(s) against a given taxpayer.

SearchSystems  Conduct free public records and background searches and, for a fee, retrieve reports aggregated by Intelius.


LexisNexis – Public records lookup (access via the J-School Research Center; Barbara or Tinamarie will log you in). 


Additional Backgrounding Tools

New York Civil Servants

SeeThruNY  gives New York’s taxpayers insight into how their tax dollars are being spent. If your subject is a civil servant, this site will be your ‘go-to’ source for verifying names, titles, salaries and pension benefits of NYC and NYS employees

Verifying Professional Licensing and Misconduct/Discipline 

The New York State Education Department exercises oversight of the licensing of professionals, and its staff investigate and prosecute professional misconduct and unlicensed practice.  Data is reported in the New York State Professional Licensing Database.   Records of Professional Misconduct are reported here. Updated daily, and considered to be a primary source.

In Class Sample Search:

Since early 2015, it has gotten easier to find out if an attorney practicing in New York has been disbarred, or suspended. In addition to finding out if an attorney is registered and from which law school he or she graduated, New York State’s online attorney database now contains attorneys’ disciplinary history.

In Class Sample Search: 


Open Secrets

NYC Campaign Finance Board


Back-Grounding the Well-Known

The J-School’s Research Center Database List provides several resources for gathering background on well-known persons; here are a few sources you should remember:


Use Lexis Nexis Academic when searching for profiles or features of prominent persons; consider the following search strategy: hlead(firstname w/3 lastname) AND atleast4 (lastname) AND length(>900) (Word count and ‘atleast’ command added when looking for extended profile pieces.)

Here’s a sample search:  hlead (Rachel w/2 Noerdlinger) AND atleast4 (noerdlinger) and length>800.  For less prominent folks, drop the hlead, firstname w/2 lastname is enough.

Access World News is another good source to have in your virtual library when searching for news appearing in small, regional and community papers, some of which are not part of the LexisNexis database (avail at J-School Database list). Use Shortcuts-USA-New York (in left navigation bar)

Biography Reference Bank.  Biographical information on over half a million well-known individuals.

Biography Reference Center.  Full-text biographies from figures in U.S. and world history, and narrative biographies unavailable elsewhere;

Don’t forget Google News; search for a person by ‘firstname ** lastname’ in case of a middle name or initials.







Data Journalism – Resources for Reporting

“Data journalism is really just another way of gathering information,” says Steve Doig, Arizona State University journalism professor and data expert. “It’s the equivalent of interviewing sources and looking at documents, instead except with data journalism you are essentially interviewing the data to let it tell you its secrets.”

In our research session today, we will turn our attention to several data visualization tools.  It will be more an introduction to these tools, rather than a comprehensive look at all that goes into mastering the craft of data journalism.

We will spend much of our time familiarizing ourselves with, and conducting searches in each of the products, to the end that you will gain an understanding of what each can do, and the facility for using them in your reporting and research exercises to add greater value to the stories you produce.



Statista is a massive, easy-to-search database; an aggregation of statistics, studies, dossiers, infographics and more, from over 100,000 vetted sources.  Topics cover a wide range of issues – from social networks and the organic food industry to eCommerce and prisoners in the U.S.  Includes comparative international data.

To find statistics on a specific topic, enter your keyword(s) into the search bar, e.g. “minimum wage”, or click on any of the linked Topics, Industries, Digital Markets, etc. in the menu bar.

Results of a Topics search will be returned with filtering options on the left side of the page. Select results by publication year or region, or narrow search results to retrieve infographics or statistics, studies or reports, market analytics or forecasts.

Each record is thoroughly sourced and includes additional reading and supplementary notes; results may be downloaded and/or shared in a variety of formats. Statista provides embed codes for each record as well as citation formats for proper attribution.

Note:  Always cite the original source; Statista is not the source of the data; it is simply the aggregator.

In Class Drill: Drones

  • Most recent data on the number of drone strikes overseen by the CIA and carried out in Pakistan and Somalia
  • Most recent data on the projected revenues (worldwide) for 2025, from the commercial use of drones.



Data-Planet is a statistics aggregating tool; it pulls and standardizes data from authoritative open source, public, private, domestic and international sources, 40% of which is proprietary.

Find data on popular topics in the news, and on key economic indicators.

There are several ways of conducting searches in Data-Planet:

  • Enter a keyword search in the search bar at the center top of the page.
  • Select popular topics in the news
  • Search by key economic indicators
  • Browse by subject
  • Browse by source.

Depending on the issue being researched, users can find and view charts, maps, and rankings at a number of levels including the country, state, zip code, and census tract levels; filtering options will be determined by the topic being investigated.

The data is easily exportable to other software; Excel is the most frequently used application for downloading data.

Let’s plunge in with a Sample Search:

Looking for the number of mortgage loan applications which were denied by lending institutions in each of NYC’s five boroughs in the most recent year for which records have been compiled.

  • From the left navigation bar:
  • Click on Browse by Subject
  • Select Housing and Construction
  • Choose Home Mortgage Disclosure Act
  • Click on Application – Denied by Financial Institution

Review the results appearing in the middle of the page.  Notice the available filtering options at your disposal:  year, geography, name of lending institution, purpose of the loan, and race and gender datapoints.

  • Select 2015
  • Choose the county geography, select New York state and highlight Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens and Richmond counties
  • Let’s select  All Lenders
  • And let’s specify the purpose of the loans – Home Purchase
  • Lastly, let’s add Gender demographics

Review the comprehensive information of the sources and description of the dataset.

Use the Chart Options to view results by Trend, Map, Pie or Rank.

Create a (portable) link:

Download to .PDF or Excel 



Launched in November 2015, the DATA2GO.NYC website is an easy to use data visualization tool, ideally useful to anyone – community-based organizations, journalists, Jane Q Public – who needs accurate information but may not be proficient in gathering research and/or performing statistical analysis.

The website includes over 300 indicators for New York City’s 59 community districts, half of which are also available by census tract, and brings together for the first time federal, state, and local data vital to understanding a broad range of issues critical to the well-being of all New Yorkers.

Users should expect to find a blend of datasets, analytic tools and interactive maps that show the connections between the social and economic realities that New Yorkers face – useful information on living conditions and public safety, schools and jobs, political engagement, health and family structure.

Users can create unique maps, find relationships and draw comparisons between indicators across neighborhoods, and print or share their results at the click of a button.

Let’s have a look at each of the three ways of searching for data using Data2Go.NYC:

The MAPS feature allows the user to apply a single indicator, e.g. meal gap, to each of the 59 CDs and most of the census tracts in NYC’s five boroughs, and to make comparative assessments of the results.

Sample Search:

Click on Select an Indicator

Choose Food Systems from the list of categories

Click on the meal gap indicator (# of meals needed per year for food security)

The graphic appearing on the left offers a visual that immediately identifies the CD with the most food insecure households.

As you click on each CD on the interactive map, a demographic profile of that CD appears on the right side of the page.

Note:  the i in the upper right corner identifies the source and provides further explanation of the indicator; clicking on the ‘get data’ tab will produce a .pdf of the results of your search.

The option to share this data (Facebook, Twitter) is also available from the main menu bar.

Users may also use the Features of Interest tab on the main menu bar to find data on government funded, licensed, or operated facilities e.g. schools, libraries, parks, liquor stores, etc.  

Sample Search:

Click on Features of Interest tab

Select a category, e.g. soup kitchens/food pantries.

Click on the dotted map to find the name of the shelter and number of beds.

Note:  While charter schools are included, private universities and colleges or for-profit schools are not.  These data were all obtained from the licensing source, and that source is accessible by clicking the i in the data box.

You can now look for relationships between communities where there are large meal gaps with those where food pantries and soups kitchens abound. 


The DASHBOARDS feature shows multiple indicators for a single CD; it doesn’t include data at the census tract level.

DASHBOARDS allows you create a custom page with your choice of indicators, lets you view the source of each data point, and provides the option to share or print your custom view. 

Sample Search

Find your CD on the map on the left side of the page, e.g. BK 12 Borough Park, Kensington and Ocean Parkway

A set of indicators will appear on the page

To create your custom view:

Hover over each indicator to delete (x), find out more about the indicator (i) or reposition the indicator (+).

Let’s get rid of (x) all indicators save for Race/Ethnicity.

Click on Select Category

Choose Political Engagement

Click on Add Module

Click and drag (+) all indicators onto the main page

You’ve now created a custom view of the face of the electorate in your CD


The CONNECTIONS feature asks the question:  Is there a connection between x and y, and if so, how strong is the relationship?

View the relationship between two variables across all CDs, and draw comparisons (on those variables) between CDs.

Sample Search

Select an x value by clicking on the blue dropdown menu

Choose from anyone of a list of variables; e.g. % of households with broadband internet

Select a y value by clicking on the yellow dropdown menu

Choose one from the list of variables e.g. % of households receiving SNAP benefits.

A graphic showing each CD (represented by dots), and a statement describing the relationship between the two variables across the city.


To cite DATA2GO please use this form of attribution: Measure of America, Social Science Research Council. 2016. DATA2GO.NYC.

A Helpful Tutorial

DOWNLOAD button brings you to a short form to complete before being able to download all DATA2GO.NYC data in a .csv or Excel file. Data are organized in the twelve categories. The only data not available in this form are the philanthropy data, which are available by subscription from The source data (accessible by clicking i) will bring users to the website where the data can be extracted. DOWNLOAD offers users the data already downloaded, extracted, and cleaned.



There’s more there, there!  The familiar NYC Open Data is more than a source for finding stats on 311 calls.

Before beginning a search, sign in; you will not be able to save your search results unless you’re signed in, so if you haven’t yet registered, do so.

Sample Search:  Looking for Art Galleries in Brooklyn, NY

Click on Data in menu bar and enter your search “art galleries”

The results reveal a map which can be shared via Twitter and Facebook

You may also view the data in tabular form and filter by city.


You may be interested in determining how many contracts the city’s Department of Aging has secured for home delivered meals.  A quick look at datasets provided by the Department for the Aging will prove quite productive.

Select DFTA Contracts

The information provided about the dataset if of tremendous value; in particular, the data contained in the various columns.  And in this example, the contract service type

Select View Data near the top of the page

Filter the first column by Home Delivered Meals

You can also filter by Borough, e.g. Brooklyn




DATA.GOV Home of the U.S. Government’s Open Data Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services



Media Experts  American Statistical Association (ASA) members with expertise in fields of statistical application

Data Journalism Handbook an initiative of the European Journalism Centre and the Open Knowledge Foundation.  

5 tips for getting started in data journalisman article by Associated Press editor Troy Thibodeaux

Resources for learning and doing data journalism Courtesy of American Press Institute





FOIL and FOIA: Making Freedom of Information Requests

It’s All About Public Accountability and the People’s Right to Know



While the provisions of the laws vary from state to state, all 50 states guarantee members of the public access to documents and other public records from state and local government bodies.

New York State’s open-record law is called – FOIL – the Freedom of Information Law and it pertains to the right of New York residents to have access to the records produced by its many government agencies.

In NYC, the following agencies are most frequently tapped with requests for records:

In New York State, the following agencies are popular ports of call:

Each of the agencies listed above provide online FOIL request forms.



Enacted in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) affords the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency.  Save for protections from public disclosure by nine exemptions and by three special law enforcement record exclusions, federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA; agencies are also required to post online certain categories of FOIA, including frequently requested records.

Note:  FOIA does not apply to the judicial branch and federal courts, the legislative branch and congress, or state governments and courts.  You must make your records requests from these entities directly.

Know Before You Go – Tools for filing FOIL and FOIA Requests

For a first-time requester of FOIL or FOIA records, the very thought of maneuvering one’s way through state and government agencies is daunting at best.

  • I want some information about terrorism arrests in the U.S. since 2015 but I’m not sure what to ask for.
  • Which agency has the documents/records I’m looking for?
  • How do I file my request?


The New York State Committee on Open Government is the public’s advocate in matters concerning the implementation of New York’s FOIL and New Yorkers’ right to access records.  Within the purview of the committee, is the obligation to provide advice, training and educational programs to members of the public and the news media.  In addition to providing an informative and practical FAQ, this page also provides sample letters for filing FOIL requests and, in the event of a denial, sample letters for appeal.

When you’re not sure what you’re asking for is a public document, you can lend credibility to your FOIL request by taking advantage of the  committee’s website posts of Advisory Opinions and decisions related to past FOIL requests; search them by topic to see if there’s one that fits your research needs. Staff also gives advice via telephone and email.

The not-for-profit site MuckRock provides tools that help you file, track, and share public records requests – state, federal and municipal.

Muckrock helps by maintaining FOIA lists  and FOIL lists of previously filed FOIA and FOIL requests.  Use these lists to help to identify what records are maintained by an agency and what the record you are looking for is called by that agency, so that your request can be more specific, thereby increasing the chances that it will be fulfilled. is the official website for all information on the FOIA.

Before making a FOIA request, search the agencies’ websites to see if the record(s) you seek have already been published and are publicly available online.

This link to FOIA Contacts is your gateway to all federal agencies and the subsidiary offices that fall within their purview.  Contact information includes name, address (including email) and telephone number of the FOIA Officer; also included is an online FOIA request form, the name and telephone contact of the FOIA Public Liaison and much more useful information.

When submitting FOIA requests, please be sure to follow the instructions of the agency to which you are making the request; remember, each agency provides details as to how to make a FOIA request, and most requests are now submitted in electronic form


FOIA Mapper is a great way to find out what FOIA requests others are making.

If you know which agency you wish to search, select the Browse by Agency link and go sleuthing; if you’re less certain, then a search of the Agency Record Systems or FOIA Logs will show how the information is stored and which agency maintains it (This example Border Apprehensions) will shed even more light on the utility of a record systems search; and a search of the FOIA Logs will show who filed the request, provide a description of the information being requested and the will show the date the request was received and will often give a status update – granted, denied, delayed…  The log will identify the requester by name/organization; that alone is useful, as it can tip you off to a newsworthy inquiry being made by a major news organization.  Check out Buzzfeed’s or your favorite news organization’s recent requests, e.g.

Here is a sample FOIA log
NOTE:  FOIA Mapper does not have logs for all agencies, but if they have a log, it will appear in your Browse by Government Agency search

TIPS   Sunshine Week 2017, an annual nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community.  Excellent resource  Courtesy of Public Citizen, this guide provides a general description of the federal Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) and specific guidelines on how to use it effectively.

Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) provides assistance to all persons/organizations making FOIA requests.  Like the NYC Committee on Open Government, OGIS is the mediator of FOIA disputes; members help to identify policies and procedures for improving FOIA compliance.  Take full advantage of the Additional FOIA Resources page.  And if your request is in dispute, check out the page on Requesting OGIS Assistance.  FOIA Glossary FOIA Best Practices

Recent FOIA news stories

Washington Post FOIA to the Parks Service. Also falling into the category of “I can’t believe that required a FOIA request.”

Here Are The Photos That Show Obama’s Crowds Were Bigger Than Trump’s  (National Park Service FOIA)

Yes, New Yorkers CAN Be Deported For Jumping A Turnstile 

According to a FOIA obtained by Queens Neighborhoods United, a community organization based in Jackson Heights and Corona, Queens, more than 1,100 immigrants were arrested in just Queens and Nassau counties between September 1st, 2015 and April 12th, 2016, before President Trump substantially lowered the bar for what constitutes a priority for immigration enforcement.

Many of these arrests, according to interviews with immigration defense lawyers, stem from low-level violations or a situation where ICE was alerted to an immigrant’s location based on a low-level arrest, and then arrested the individual based on a much, much older conviction.



Mining Census Data for Reporting

About the Census & the Annual American Community Survey 


  • straight count of people who live in the U.S., the census provides basic demographics – sex, age, race, Hispanic origin, and homeowner status (aka ‘tenure’)
  • Mandated by the Constitution.
  • Takes place every 10 years. The next census will be published in 2020.
  • Determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Used to distribute billions in federal funds to state and local communities.
  • Now asks 10 “short form” questions (starting with Census 2010). Here’s a copy of the short form questionnaire:  Census 2010 Questionnaire

American Community Survey Estimates

Prior to the 2010 census, a ‘long form’ questionnaire was used to gather statistical data about the U.S. population.  This detailed information painted a picture of the demographic, social, and economic face of the nation – from states to counties to census tracts.   See sample here:  Census 2000 Long Form Questionnaire

Because data from the decennial census arrived in 10-year intervals, there was no way to harness and analyze population trends and other changes in the intervening years.

Congress asked the Census Bureau to bridge this gap with information and data about how the lives and circumstances of Americans change in those in-between years.

The American Community Survey estimates (ACS) is the result.

  • American Community Survey shows how people live.
  • Annual data for the ACS is acquired from a series of detailed questions asked of each respondent – not unlike the old ‘long form’ questionnaire of decennial census 2000 and earlier; here’s a sample ACS Questionnaire.
  • It is the source for detailed demographic and socio-economic data – citizenship, educational attainment, income, home ownership, health insurance coverage, travel time to work…, and data is available, down to small areas (census tracts- about 4,000).

Subjects included in the ACS survey


Important Note:

All ACS data are estimates, and should ALWAYS be identified/referred to as such.  To help interpret the reliability of the estimate, a margin of error (MOE) is included for every ACS estimate. The margin of error provides a measure of the range of uncertainty around each estimate; this range can be calculated with 90 percent confidence by taking the estimate +/- the MOE. If, for example, the ACS reports an estimate of 100 +/- 20, then there is a 90 percent chance that the value for the total population falls between 80 and 120.


The larger the MOE, the lower the accuracy of the estimate—and the less confidence one should have that the estimate is close to the true value.  If the margin of error is over 10%, use with caution.

A census tract is too small an area to get reliable ACS estimates; use the NTA (neighborhood tabulation area)

Each year, we get three types of datasets:

  • ACS 1-year estimates for populations of 65,000+ (2015)
  • ACS 3-year estimates for populations of 20,000+ (2011-2013)
  • ACS 5-year estimates for populations of any size (2011-2015)

The comparison table below (courtesy of the ACS site), is helpful in determining which estimates one should consider using when looking for data.

1-year estimates 3-year estimates 5-year estimates
12 months of collected data 36 months of collected data 60 months of collected data
Data for areas with populations of 65,000+ Data for areas with populations of 20,000+ Data for all areas
Smallest sample size Larger sample size than 1-year Largest sample size
Less reliable than 3-year or 5-year More reliable than 1-year; less reliable than 5-year Most reliable
Most current data Less current than 1-year estimates; more current than 5-year Least current
Best used when Best used when Best used when
Currency is more important than precision

Analyzing large populations

More precise than 1-year, more current than 5-year

Analyzing smaller populations

Examining smaller geographies because 1-year estimates are not available

Precision is more important than currency

Analyzing very small populations

Examining tracts and other smaller geographies because 1-year estimates are not available


When Making Comparisons with ACS Datasets:

  • DO compare similar period lengths, e.g. 1-year to 1-year.
  • DON’T compare estimates from different period lengths, e.g. 1-year to 3-year.
  • DO compare estimates from non-overlapping periods, e.g. compare a 2005-2007 ACS 3-year estimate to a 2008-2010 ACS 3-year estimate.
  • DON’T compare overlapping periods, for example, the 2005-2007 ACS 3-year estimates to the 2006-2008 ACS 3-year estimates. 

When comparing ACS estimates with decennial Census data, this Census Bureau link will prove invaluable:  ACS/Census Table Comparisons


Useful Tools for Finding Census and ACS Data for NYC CDs and Neighborhoods

NYC’s indispensable Department of City Planning produces the very familiar Community Data Portal.  Use the Population Data icon found in the menu bar for each CD Profile to access demographic data from the Census Bureau and the American Community Survey estimates.  Pay close attention to the descriptions (included below) of the various geographies at your disposal; your understanding of each will be most helpful in determining which geography best suits your editorial needs:

  • Census Tracts – small statistical subdivisions of counties used by the U.S. Census Bureau. In New York City, there are 2,168 census tracts, which typically have a population of about 2,500 – 4,000 each, and are typically a range of a city blocks.
  • Public Use Microdata Area(s) approximate New York City’s 59 community districts – about 100,000 persons.  A Census Bureau creation; there are 55 PUMAs in NYC. Here is a map of New York City PUMAs by CD (Public Use Microdata Areas as defined by the Census) and Community Districts. PUMAs are an approximation NYC Community Districts (CDs) borders.
  • Neighborhood Tabulation Area(s)are subsets of New York City’s PUMAs.  Created by the NYC Department of City Planning, these areas are aggregations of census tracts based on neighborhoods, and are a valuable tool for presenting published census data; the Census Bureau does not publish data for NTAs.  Find Census Tract-to-NTA-to-PUMA equivalencies here: Census Tract/ NTA/PUMA Equivalencies

Take Note:  This data is not the most current available.  And the data provided is selected, not complete

SocialExplorer (available via CUNY J-School database) has an easy-to- use interface, and contains datasets for all Decennial Censuses and American Community Survey estimates.  Have a look at Barbara Gray’s excellent how-to for finding community data with SocialExplorer here: Tipsheet.

Let’s have a go at the assignment you had for finding the foreign born from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

The U.S. Census’ New American Factfinder is the repository for all things census; include the American Community Survey, the Decennial Census, the Annual Economic Surveys, the American Housing Survey, the Economic Census (published every five years).

The Census Reporter is a cool tool which provides a more pliable interface for reporters and easier access to American Community Survey census data to write stories. (Funded by the Knight News Challenge)

Sample Search:  

Use ACS data to generate story ideas


To provide context, always make comparisons – neighborhood to borough, neighborhood to city, city to nation.

Compare data year over year in an area to identify trends.

Use latest data to examine how they affect your beat or community.

Take a national story, and localize it.

If you hear about a trend or issue on your beat, use Census data to illustrate or disprove. 

There’s No Religion Data in the US Census!

  • The Association of Religion Archives and Data (ARDA)  ARDA Archives and Data has produced a 2010 study of US congregations and membership; data tracks to the state and county level.
  • The same data Religion 2010 (InfoGroup)is also available (PUMA level) on the J-School’s Social Explorer database.



Reporting with Factiva, Access World News, and TVEyes


It’s difficult to report, research, write, fact-check, and publish without wading into the territory of commercial databases.  Products like Dow Jones FACTIVA, Access World News and search engines for TV and radio a la TVEyes are valuable reporting tools that many journalists avail themselves of as they strive to produce credible, well-reported and useful stories and news reports that inform a widespread and diverse readership.

Our focus during this research session will be to make more familiar, the contents of each of these research tools, and to make search of these products a more efficient exercise, yielding timely and useful results.

In preparation for this session, you were asked to spend time with each resource, getting a feel for the landscape of each, and trying a search for stories on Muslims in New York City since Trump’s inauguration in each system.

As we review each product, let us have some shared discussion about your respective search strategies, the sources you used, and the results you produced.  And, let us take the opportunity to run searches on topics from story ideas for which you are preparing pitches.

Dow Jones Factiva 

Factiva is an international database of current news and events with a strong focus on business and economic issues.

Sources include domestic (including regional) and international newspapers, magazines and journals, company reports, television and radio podcasts, business information websites, and more.

This is an excellent reporting tool for reporters seeking research on background, current business and industry news, analyses of corporate strategy and financial information (including stock prices).

One unique feature of the Factiva database is its access to the Wall Street Journal and the full complement of its online products, as well as other Dow Jones resources; these sources are not available in the Lexis Nexis Academic database. 

Factiva opens in the search tab and in the free text search form, but before we review your search assignment, or create news searches, let’s have a look at what else Factiva offers.

Business reporters can take full advantage of the company/markets tab to search for company information – quick company snapshots, stock prices, industry and market competition.

Let’s use the Company tab to find and review a quick snapshot of Whole Foods Market. Use the left navigation bar to ferret key news or developments, current litigation issues, management moves, the percentage of institutional and individual ownership, and more.

Click on the Quotes tab to find current and two years’ worth of historical stock prices, and currency exchange rates; and on the tab for Market Data Charts to find comparative performance on peer stocks and market indexes data .

In-Class Drill:   Find the daily high, low and close for Apple Inc. for the past month

In-Class Drill:  Compare the stock performance of Time Warner (TWX) and the Walt Disney Company (DIS)

Factiva’s News Pages tab offers a glimpse of the latest news drawn from about 10 top news publications.  Great way to get up to speed on the latest news foreign and domestic.

Now, back to Factiva’s search page.

Factiva’s Search tab defaults to a free text search form with a three-month window of news from all sources.

Not unlike LexisNexis Academic, the search window gives the user full control to create targeted searches using the essential Boolean search connectors AND, OR and NOT, and other precision search tools. 

For articles containing                                                                  Enter

both Apple and market performance              Apple and “market performance”

future or forecast                                                      future or forecast

debt but not government                                        debt not government


For more advanced searching, here are eight key commands that provide greater precision when performing searches:

For articles containing                                                                  Enter

Terms in the headline and lead paragraph                        hlp=interest rates

Words in proximity to each other                            housing near15 foreclosures

Words appearing in the same paragraph                         consumer same debt

Search for an author (byline)                                            by=errol louis

Length of an article                                                          wc>1,000

Articles with many mentions of a term                               atleast5 deficit

Articles appearing in the same publication                          sn=wall street journal

Words with multiple endings                                             educat* will return results                                                                            with multiple endings –                                                                                            education, educator, educate


Selecting Dates and Source(s)

The date default is three months; you have the option to make changes as needed.

Just below the All Sources header, there is a window; if you are after a specific publication, then type the title in that window.  The type ahead feature is also helpful in quickly finding your source.

For the purposes of the subject matter of our in-class drill, in the Select Source Category, I recommend starting with All Sources and filtering by Region.  (The + at left lets you drill down to specific geographies and within those categories, specific titles; the at the right of each title describes its content, the extent of its archive and its frequency.)

Additional search options – by author, company, industry… appear in the left navigation bar.

If your search is of a business and economics nature, then you may want to consider selecting from the Top Sources option, Major News and Business Sources, United States Sources; then add a regional filter, e.g., Northeast – New York State.

Let’s now review your search for stories on Muslims in New York City since President Donald Trump’s inauguration


In-Class Drills: 

  • Looking for a Matt Flamm piece which appeared in Crain’s NY Business recently; it was about how e-commerce and rising rents are negatively impacting retail stores like Macy’s.
  • Looking for profiles of Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. 


Access World News

The name of this database speaks for itself; it’s a vast repository of news and events local, regional, national and global, with coverage going as far back as 1978.

Sources are in full text, and include print and online-only newspapers, blogs, newswires, journals, broadcast transcripts and videos. A rich representation of New York sources makes this product particularly valuable; and if you are researching news from the New York region, there is a shortcut to those sources in prominent display in the left navigation bar on the main page.

A review of the search portion of the main page reveals a familiar menu-driven system of options for streamlining a search using Boolean operators, and for creating more precision searches using the author/byline, word count, headline, source and other options.

Remember, your knowledge of and ability to use Boolean Operators and other precision search tools will save you both time and effort as they cut down on the number of articles in the results list that may not be relevant to your research objective.

Once you’ve written and executed your search, you have the option to limit your results – by the type of source (newspapers, magazines, transcripts, blogs, video…), name of publication(s), or by geography.

When viewing each result, be mindful of the cite option in the menu bar; it allows you to select the citation format you wish to use.


Let’s have a look at your search for stories on  Muslims in New York City since Trump’s inauguration


In-Class Drills: 

  • Clips on Mayor De Blasio’s performance/approval rating during 2016
  • Queen Elizabeth’s succession

Keep in mind the Shortcuts option on the left side of the main page.  If your research leads you on a hunt for sources in the New York region, you may want to quickly click on the USA-New York link.  And if you’re after broadcast transcripts, or news magazines from the U.S., or sources covering defense and military matters, these shortcuts might prove useful and efficient.




TV Eyes searches television and radio for broadcast clips from U.S. TV markets and markets in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

In New York City, access to the international broadcast media provides a boon to the reporting and research capabilities of journalists who cover international news, and ethnic communities.

Coverage is very broad and timely (within moments of broadcast).  U.S coverage includes all major network affiliates and national cable stations. 

The Power Search option lets you input keywords, dates and news market information all at once.

Use the keywords and the Boolean connectors AND OR and NOT for more effective search. 

Date and time parameters and specific networks or markets selections are not required but are particularly useful when attempting to limit the volume of clips in the results list and further hone in on targeted results.

To save the clip you have selected, click directly on the words “Clip Editor” beneath the play button.

A new screen will appear with the option to set a start and endpoint of the clip.

Once the start and end points are set then click “Save It To Media Center”.

A message will appear that will let you know that the clip is being prepared and an email will be sent on how to find it.

Return to the main page and click on “Media Center” and the saved clip will be there with instructions on how to download.

A message pops up at the bottom of the screen to let you know when the clip has been saved successfully.

The Snapshot search returns the latest live stream clips (with transcript) available from major US news networks as well as local affiliates and international news outlets.

Let’s take a stab at your search for broadcast clips of stories covering Muslims in New York City since President Donald Trump’s inauguration





Craft2 Spring 2017 – January 31, 2017


This page is intended to serve as a complement to the very comprehensive Research Guide CUNY J-School Fact Checking, Verification & Fake News Guide prepared by Barbara Gray, and available on the J-School’s Research Center page.  You will find it a handy resource as you report and research your story assignments this term.

Fake News – How Do We Define It?

Stories presented as news, which have not been produced with the journalistic best practices of fact-checking and verification, and which are false, misleading, satirical, rumor-based, hoaxes, conspiracy theories and/or propaganda.  Driven primarily by the social networks and other websites.

Analyzing and Identifying Fake News  

You are required to employ the same levels of skepticism and best practices that have certified the content of the traditional sources of information you’ve used in your reporting and research to verify and confirm the content you retrieve from social media networks and other web-based products.

Consider the Source

  • Does the story have an attributed byline, and is the writer an authoritative source?
  • Is there an “About Us” link on the site, and does the “Contact Us” link lead to an email address that is other than … or …
  • How reliable and trustworthy is the site?  Raise that skeptical red flag, if other reputable sites are not reporting the story.

Can This Site Be Trusted?

  • Be wary of news websites that end in (e.g. as they are often fake versions of real news sources, and avoid sites that end in lo (e.g. newslo); sites like these are often satirical in nature – mixing accurate and false or misleading information.  Words like .wordpress or blogger appearing in the domain is often a sign that the content is personal, and not a news source.
  • Do a Google search to see whether or how the news is being reported on other legitimate journalism sites.
  • Many sites will hide any personal information used in the registration process.  A WhoIs search on a website will return all the information used to register that site when it was set up.  If a website is younger than it claims to be, (e.g., the chances are that it was set up to spread fake news stories.

Is This a Balanced or Biased Story?  

  • Does the story make you angry?  It has probably been designed to tug at your emotional core; remember, fake news preys on our own biases.  Be conscious of your own internal biases, and of the predisposition to lock into/onto stories that support your personal assumptions; confirmation bias is the term used in journalistic parlance.
  • Ask yourself:  does the story only present one side of a debate?  Has it appeared in other familiar and reputable sources?  Does the story include linked cited sources – expert and/or official?Pause, check the story against other reliable sources before you decide to share it.

Keeping Up Appearances

  • Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.  Does the website follow AP Style Guide or another style guide?  Typically, the lack of a style guide may indicate a paucity of editing or fact-checking practices.

Please check out School Library Journal and the Digital Resource Center for more useful tips on analyzing the credibility of sources.

Seeking Solutions

Fact-Checking Sites

Make it part of your best practices to check the facts of the story against respected fact-checking sites, several of which are listed below.  Search individually or collectively via this Fact Checking Sites Search Engine.


Washington Post Fact Checker

New York Times Fact Checks of the 2016 Election Fact Check

NPR Politics Factcheck


Tech Tips 

Google Chrome Extensions

  • B.S. Detector.  Add this extension to your Google Chrome browser and identify fake news, satire, conspiracy theories, bias, hate groups, and much more.  Adds a red warning label to the top of questionable sites; similar warnings will appear on Facebook when one scrolls over an article on a news feed
  • Fake News Alert will warn readers when they arrive at a website known to produce fake news or hoaxes. The pop-up or banner alerts readers that “the information on this site might be false or misleading.”
  • Add the RealDonaldContext extension to your Google Chrome browser and take advantage of the chance to fact-check Donald Trump’s tweets.  Once the extension is downloaded, it is ready to use. Click on any of Trump’s tweets and the fact checker will appear below it, ready to refute (or validate) any of Trump’s claims and explain why they’re wrong (or right). According to producer, the Washington Post, it’s not perfect, but a good start.
  • Use TinEye and/or a Google Image search to weed out suspicious photos/images.  Purveyors of fake news are well known for using old images to tell new stories, particularly breaking news or stories with a political or social focus.  A reverse image search allows you to find out where an image came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, track its appearance online or to find higher resolution versions.  Google Images and TinEye each have huge databases of pictures; you can either copy and paste an image URL or upload a picture to check for matches. If you use Google Chrome as your web browser, you can even right-click on an image and select “Search Google for image” to look for matches.  TinEye’s useful sorting function allows you to select image by newest/oldest.  Note: ‘oldest’ refers to the first time TinEye found the image on the web, not the first time it appeared on the web.

Fake News Sites, a fact-checking site, maintains a comprehensive and growing list of fake news outlets.]

Working Website List for

The below list of websites is a combination of my original list in this google document, numerous other lists on the internet, and suggestions from readers/internet users. All tagged websites have been analyzed by myself or one of the librarians I’m working with on OpenSources. All websites tagged as “unknown”  still need to be analyzed, and some of them may be removed entirely from the resource for various reasons (i.e. it doesn’t circulate “news” or the website no longer exists). Finally, please remember that all tags may be subject to revision based on feedback, discussion, continued analysis, or website changes etc.

Current count: 944            

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Dont-Tread-On.Me conspiracy fake satire unknown bias bias fake satire satire conspiracy bias clickbait conspiracy unknown unknown unknown conspiracy junksci clickbait junksci conspiracy unreliable bias clickbait satire satire fake fake satire fake satire satire political fake bias unknown unknown fake unknown hate conspiracy fake satire conspiracy unknown unknown junksci unknown
ExplosiveReports.Com unknown conspiracy hate unknown bias clickbait fake conspiracy junksci unknown fake satire conspiracy bias unknown unknown bias conspiracy junksci political unknown unreliable bias unknown fake satirical unknown satire satire junksci political unknown conspiracy junksci conspiracy fake bias bias fake conspiracy conspiracy bias bias conspiracy unknown bias unreliable unknown satire unknown satire satire conspiracy junksci bias bias hate unknown unknown political credible conspiracy junksci unknown junksci conspiracy bias unknown hate conspiracy junksci conspiracy political hate conspiracy unknown conspiracy unknown unknown satire conspiracy unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown satire fake unknown fake conspiracy bias conspiracy conspiracy unknown political unreliable bias conspiracy junksci bias junksci unknown unknown unknown bias unknown unknown conspiracy unknown bias conspiracy rumor unknown satire unknown unknown unknown conspiracy satire satire unknown unknown unreliable satire bias clickbait fake bias unreliable unknown bias clickbait junksci clickbait unreliable unknown conspiracy unreliable bias unreliable fake hate conspiracy conspiracy bias conspiracy unreliable unknown fake clickbait bias conspiracy bias fake satire satire fake unknown fake fake political political bias unknown conspiracy unreliable bias clickbait unknown unknown unknown satire conspiracy unknown bias unknown unknown bias unknown
Kauilapele,com unknown unknown unknown unknown satire unknown unknown unknown bias unreliable unknown unknown clickbait bias satire satire fake fake hate conspiracy unreliable bias conspiracy bias conspiracy clickbait bias unreliable bias bias clickbait junksci clickbait bias clickbait unknown bias malware warning clickbait satire unknown unreliable clickbait unreliable clickbait unreliable hate rumor bias bias fake unknown unknown unknown unknown fake rumor unreliable rumor fake unknown unknown conspiracy bias hate unknown political unknown unknown bias unknown unreliable fake bias unknown fake satire fake unknown unknown fake bias fake bias satire political unknown unknown unknown satire fake unknown unknown conspiracy fake conspiracy junksci conspiracy junksci conspiracy fake unknown unknown satire unknown unreliable bias unreliable bias political fake satire fake satire satire unknown fake unknown bias fake satire fake fake unreliable bias satire fake bias unknown conspiracy satire satire fake fake rumor unreliable fake conspiracy satire conspiracy unreliable unknown unknown conspiracy unknown unreliable clickbait fake unknown fake conspiracy unknown unknown credible clickbait satire unknown unknown unknown satire unknown unknown unknown clickbait bias unreliable bias clickbait unknown bias conspiracy unknown bias conspiracy unknown conspiracy fake conspiracy bias unknown bias conspiracy bias conspiracy clickbait bias unreliable fake conspiracy fake bias unknown bias clickbait unknown bias clickbait bias satire unknown bias conspiracy bias conspiracy bias conspiracy unknown unknown unknown unknown bias conspiracy bias unknown unknown unknown conspiracy junkscience bias clickbait conspiracy unreliable clickbait fake unknown fake unknown unknown fake clickbait bias satire unreliable unknown unknown unknown unreliable bias unknown clickbait unreliable unknown unreliable bias rumor conspiracy bias rumor conspiracy conspiracy fake political bias unreliable unknown bias unreliable bias unreliable conspiracy conspiracy conspiracy fake unknown unknown bias unreliable political fake bias political unknown bias clickbait unknown unknown junksci political clickbait unknown unknown fake bias fake clickbait unknown conspiracy bias fake clickbait junksci conspiracy fake satire junksci unknown bias unreliable bias conspiracy unreliable unknown political clickbait bias clickbait satire bais clickbait conspiracy junksci junksci hate junksci clickbait fake unknown fake conspiracy bias unreliable unknown unknown bias unreliable fake satire political satire political conspiracy junksci rumor unknown political unknown political bias clickbait satire satire satire unknown conspiracy junksci satire conspiracy junksci unknown unknown unknown conspiracy junksci unknown conspiracy bias unknown unknown
Silver-Coin-Investor. com conspiracy bias unreliable conspiracy conspiracy bias unknown unknown conspiracy unknown bias conspiracy junksci unknown unknown conspiracy bias unreliable unknown unknown unknown unknown unreliable unknown unknown unknown satire bias state unknown unknown unknown unknown satire fake unknown satire fake bias unknown unknown fake bias unknown satire unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown fake bias unknown unknown unknown unknown satire political clickbait fake unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown fake conspiracy unknown fake clickbait unknown political unknown unknown unknown satire conspiracy bias satire unknown unreliable unknown conspiracy bias conspiracy junksci clickbait conspiracy bias conspiracy political conspiracy junksci fake bias clickbait unreliable conspiracy clickbait bias conspiracy unreliable unreliable unknown satire satire unreliable unknown unknown unknown fake conspiracy bias unknown conspiracy junksci bias unreliable bias conspiracy satire unknown conspiracy junksci clickbait conspiracy junksci clickbait unknown hate conspiracy unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown satire satire unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown conspiracy satire unknown hate conspiracy bias unreliable unknown fake satire bias conspiracy hate unknown fake fake bias unknown hate unknown unknown unknown satire satire unknown satire satire satire unknown fake bias fake conspiracy junksci unknown satire satire fake satire unknown bias conspiracy clickbait unknown unknown unknown unknown fake conspiracy bias unknown unknown satire clickbait unreliable conspiracy unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown clickbait unreliable unknown bias clickbait fake unknown bias conspiracy clickbait conspiracy clickbait hate bias conspiracy conspiracy unknown unknown bias conspiracy junksci unknown bias hate unknown unknown unknown unknown clickbait rumor unknown conspiracy bias satire unknown fake conspiracy bias unknown fake unknown unknown satire unreliable unknown unknown fake unknown fake conspiracy unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown fake bias clickbait unknown unknown fake bias clickbait unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown bias unreliable unknown unknown unknown fake unknown unknown bias conspiracy hate fake unknown unreliable unknown fake conspiracy junksci bias conspiracy unreliable unknown unknown unknown fake bias conspiracy unknown unknown clickbait bias unreliable unknown unknown unknown unknown bias unreliable fake conspiracy fake bias clickbait unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown conspiracy unknown unreliable unreliable bias conspiracy bias conspiracy satire satire unknown unknown bias conspiracy unreliable bias fake conspiracy bias political bias fake rumor clickbait conspiracy junksci bias clickbait conspiracy conspiracy rumor hate conspiracy bias unreliable conspiracy junksci rumor unknown unknown unknown conspiracy satire conspiracy satire bias unreliable satire bias clickbait unreliable unreliable satire unknown unknown unknown satire bias fake fake fake conspiracy junksci junksci clickbait satire state conspiracy political fake bias bias unreliable fake unknown unknown clickbait junksci unknown unknown conspiracy conspiracy

CloneZone, a website which allows users to make fake articles in the style of real publications. The difference, however, is that “” will always appear in the URL of a web page created this way.

Further Reading:

The Long and Brutal History of Fake News

Fake News and the Spread of Misinformation