Journalists used to have to put on their boots to find sources. Now they can track them down with the click of a mouse.
Finding sources in the real world is hard enough, finding them online can be as random as flipping through a phone book.
That’s where sites offering to crowdsource experts and gather comments come in.
The five websites below offer journalists easy and free access to sources, experts and even story ideas. Time-crunched staffers and far-flung freelancers alike can benefit from finding sources and gathering news this way, especially as the sites offering to send out queries multiply.
Some allow journalists to post queries or use a high-powered search engine. In others, it’s possible to submit a deadline and a topic to the site and get sources and interview questions answered via email.
Whether you think these sites are a marvelous supplement to old school journalism or profoundly lazy -- as we ask in a discussion post -- they’re worth checking out.
ProfNet, sponsored by the PR Newsire for Journalists, is a free resource for communicators and journalists around the world. Founded in 1992, it offers a database of over 30,000 expert profiles searchable by world region and expert type. Journalists can also launch time-sensitive queries for experts in specific regions and cloak their name and news organization.
Membership is free. Opportunities are sent in 13 subject areas, such as science, law or government. The site is available in Spanish and English.
2. Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
HARO bills itself as the largest source repository in the world, with over 100,000 active sources—both experts and lay people. Journalists submit their pitches and deadline directly to HARO and then receive sources directly in their inbox. At present, the site gets about 200 queries a day.
In order to make a query, the reporter’s site must have an Alexa ranking criteria of under two million. Reporters may not post surveys or request video content and student journalists are not allowed. The site is currently open to journalists from 22 countries.
NewsBasis is a free web platform that aims to connect “the right journalists with the right message at the right time.” Journalists create alerts on topics of interests, and then receive “embedded point of views,” in a sidebar, which includes story ideas pitched by the site’s users (often, PR people). Journalists can then contact those users, or “follow” the topic to receive new story ideas by email. There is also a search engine on the site for journalists to look for sources.
Journalists must be from reputable news organizations, demonstrate experience with a news organization or report for a blog dedicated to delivery of news content to an audience (as opposed to the promotion of products and/or consulting services) with substantial readership. Newsbasis also features an updated blog for journalists and clients.
Authoratory offers scientific experts, particularly in the fields of chemistry, biology and medicine. The contents of the free international site are produced by analyzing the large amounts of data from PubMed, a service of the US National Library of Medicine. Authoratory offers additional updated information about each expert: his or her frequent coauthors, professional interests, affiliated institution and contact information.
The site presently has nearly 100,000 leading scientists in its database searchable by keyword or name. Profiles can be found in English, French, Spanish and Russian.
Experts.com includes a large, free and international database of experts in a variety of fields. It features authors, consultants, engineers and writers. The site’s main objective is to promote and match expert professionals with customers, although it is also available to journalists.
The database is searchable by keyword, name, company, state or country. Each expert profile includes a summary of the person’s professional achievements, resume, links to book and articles written and contact information. The site is only available in English.