I’ve always been interested in the way that journalists rely on ‘hotspots’: those places and people you check in on if you’re looking for a story. What do I mean? Here are just a few examples from traditional journalism:
- The courts
- The emergency services
- The pub (and its landlord)
- Council meetings
- The local vicar
- The post office (think cards in the window)
What’s notable about that list is that these are not places where news events necessarily happen, but rather where information about them gets exchanged: crimes, fires and accidents take place all over town, but most of their perpetrators, heroes and victims eventually end up swapping stories in the same places. Pubs are great places for gossip (and fights), but you can’t be there all the time (and keep your job at least).
As more information gets exchanged online, new hotspots appear and old ones become less productive, from a journalistic point of view. Vicars deal with fewer births and marriages; cards move from the post office window to Freecycle.
I’ve written previously about network infrastructures for journalists online…
…but I wanted to add to that with some more specific, practical steps for journalists. So over on Help Me Investigate I’ve written a guide to 7 pools of sources you can use as a journalist, and how they can inform your real-world digging. These are the new ‘hotspots’.
In case you haven’t got time to click through to that post, those 7 are:
- Prepackaged news
- Corridors of power
- Reluctant disclosures
- Reports, research and consultations
- Affected communities
- Experts and observers
Can you add any others?