While Google search is the first tool most reporters use when researching a story, there is a wealth of information in the so-called "deep web," which is not indexed by search engines like Google and Bing. Reporters can unearth this information to break stories no one else has.
Delving further, another area of the web is defined by some as the "dark Internet," impenetrable by its nature, inside secure servers that are protected for a variety of reasons (national security or military purposes), whose content is isolated and kept private from searches.
However, much of the deep web is more accessible than we think. Here, the enterprising journalist can find documents that have not been stored in an HTML structure including PDF, Excel, PPT (Power Point), Flash and extensions used by Google Earth.
Tips for journalists:
If you want to explore a website, start with a simple operation: explore the site map, a fairly uncommon practice that can serve as a compass and guide your search.
Learn to use the advanced search feature in all search engines, including Google's advanced search.
Try narrowing your search by city to find new information. Enter the name of the city you live in or from which you want information in either of the first two fields. If your search is Bogota, for example, use the first field "all of these words" and if it's Buenos Aires, use the second, "this exact word or phrase" since it is a compound name.
Limit your results to the most recent time period: for example, last week or the last 24 hours. Similarly, according to the type of information you want to find, you should decide the format, for example Excel, in which you have a greater chance of finding statistical tables or development costs.
Use the domain restriction to find information on government sites, adding just the name of the site (like "wikipedia.org") or using only the last part of the domain, for example "gov.ar" for sites in Argentina.
Although you can do this using the advanced search feature, you can also use the “time” tool in the left column of Google to find last-minute links, such as information published in the last hour.
- Learn how to perform advanced searches using other search engines, like Bing.
This is the first part of a series on finding information in the deep web.
Sandra Crucianelli is a Knight International Journalism Fellow, an investigative journalist and instructor, specializing in digital resources and data journalism. She is the founder and editor of Sololocal.info, an online magazine that provides hyperlocal news from Bahía Blanca City, Argentina.
The original version of this post appeared on IJNet Spanish. It was translated into English by Maite Fernandez.
Image CC-licensed via Danard Vincente on Flickr.