Case Study 4

15 Feb

Not only are websites like Reddit a good source for story ideas; Google Alerts work well, too. The best part? Google Alerts caters to your interests. You can work on a story that you actually want to write about! Pretty cool, right?

Miami Herald reporter Gary Fineout used his Web resources well for his Jim Morrison story. He made use of all parts of Google Alerts, receiving not only news alerts but Web alerts as well. This reporter knew where to look for ideas. It’s amazing how catching one little thing can make a letter from a fan site into a huge story. He was even able to track down Jim Morrison’s father, who lived all the way across the country! This is a great example of a story that would most likely not have been found through any old website. Google Alerts is a fascinating tool.

At the time of this story’s publication in 2007, Morrison had not actually been pardoned yet; the story just brought up the letter his fans submitted to former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. However, it wasn’t until three years later that Morrison’s pardon became a reality. Rolling Stone magazine had a story on it. MTV.com had a story on it. Even Fox News had a story about it. However, not one of these stories mentioned the fan letter written to Crist. This pardon may have happened even without the Miami Herald’s help; however, it did get out the message about the fan letter, so who knows? Gary Fineout may have been the sole reason for Morrison’s pardon.

Today, it is so easy to find story ideas. We should feel lucky to have Google available to us, because in the days of typewriters and printing presses, people had to physically go out and search for stories and sources. Kudos to Gary Fineout, who “lit the fire” on a small story and made it a big one.

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