A rundown of some of reported.ly’s favorite tools

Andy Carvin
the reported.ly team
4 min readAug 31, 2016


After covering global news stories via social media for nearly two years, we’ve accumulated quite the list of tools and tricks. As we take a break and determine what’s next for reported.ly, we thought we’d share some of them with you, in case you’re interested in doing a little reported.ly-style reporting on your own.


  • Why we love it: It’s fast, it’s easy and it allows you have have multiple columns and searches open.
  • Tip: Search the word “breaking” and more than 10 RTs and you’ve got a heads-up column on whatever is trending worldwide.
  • Tip: Search for phrases like “I’m a reporter” or “I’m a journalist” to see who journalists on Twitter are trying to reach. In many cases, they’re eyewitnesses to breaking news events.
  • Tip: When searching for breaking around a specific event like a terrorist attack or natural disaster, try to put yourself in the mind of someone who witnessed it. In many cases, they’ll use local jargon to describe nearby landmarks. Sometimes they’ll even use profanity, like “What the fuck was that?” when an earthquake hits an area usually not prone to them. And never assume most international Twitter users tweet in English, so be prepared to search for appropriate terms in the local language, like “terramoto” for “earthquake” in Spanish, or “patlama” for explosion in Turkish.

Geolocation tools (Banjo, Twitter Advanced Search, SAMdesk)

  • Why we love them: Though geolocation on Twitter isn’t an “exact science,” due to technical limitations and privacy concerns, it’s often easy to drill down to obtain localized reports or reactions to developing stories
  • Tip: When trying to find geolocated photos, try conducting searches on Instagram for a specific location, like a city, or a particular building. Eyewitnesses often geotag their Instagram pics.
  • Tip: This guide contains Twitter geolocation instructions with a variety of tools, but the simplest way is to find the coordinates of a location from its URL on Google maps, and do a live search on Twitter for “geocode:lat,long,radius” (in kilometers)
  • Tip: For advanced video verification techniques, check out Malachy Browne’s guide, with examples
  • Warning: Just because a piece of information or footage is geotagged does not mean it’s accurate. Sometimes people in these locations post inaccurate or misleading content. Usually it’s not intentionally — perhaps they’re sharing a photo supposedly taken by the brother of their best friend, for example — but sometimes it is.

Google Image Search and TinEye

  • Why we love them: Reverse image search tools aren’t comprehensive — exercise judgment on sourcing, whether they return results or not — but using them to verify images circulated in social media is a core best practice. It can also help with that pesky problem of people geotagging old footage and passing it off as new.
  • Tip: Google Image Search also has a Chrome extension .

Google Earth

  • Why we love it: It’s one of the best tools out there when trying to authenticate footage that has potentially identifiable landmarks in the background. It also lets you create virtual tours of locations you’re covering, like we did when we covered the Nepal Earthquake last year.


  • Why we love it: Though every self-respecting curator uses own and trusted lists to follow breaking news, Breaking News lists the day’s main wire stories at a glance
  • Tip: The free versions of the iPhone & Android apps allow limited personalization, including alerts for up to 10 stories followed


  • Why we love it: Allows you to verify claims that hashtags are trending anywhere in the world, instantly
  • Tip : Users often confuse a topic trending in their personalized view of Twitter with a global trending topic


  • Why we love them: Sounds silly, but email newsletters are a great way to get caught up quickly in the morning.
  • Tip: We recommend Buzzfeed’s newsletter and the Council for Foreign Relations newsletter.

Pablo by Buffer

  • Why we love it: This simple tool lets you create really quick quote images, with whatever you want as the background.
  • Tip: Add a watermark or logo easily, and it should show up every time you use Pablo afterward.

GIF Keyboard for Mac

  • Why we love it: Easy drag and drop GIFs for your daily cute happiness.
  • Tip: There’s a great iPhone app, too.

Quickshot for Mac

  • Why we love it: We take a lot of screenshots. To save tweets, to show parts of documents, all sorts of things. Quickshot makes it easy for you to access those screenshots in your Mac menu bar instead of a giant mess on your desktop.
  • Tip: Designate a folder, not your desktop for the screenshots. Kim has hers in a Lingo (a image organization app) folder, so they’re easy to find later.
  • ScreenCapture is also good.


  • Why we love it: It’s easy to embed small or large documents, official governments’ statements, NGO’s reports that you want to make available to the public to browse or highlight.
  • Tip: For the same reason, you can search SlideShare to see if somebody else already posted the same document or shared something that is interesting to you.



Andy Carvin
the reported.ly team

Senior fellow and managing editor, @DFRLab. Former Sr Editor-At-Large at NowThis & founder of reported.ly. Author of the book Distant Witness. NPR alum.