It’s no secret that one of the keys to being a successful journalist these days is mastering the art of combing the Internet. And, a large portion of finding great stuff on the Internet relies on properly and efficiently utilizing clever tools that elevates your online skills from “great” to “practically superhuman.”
Chrome is now the most popular Internet browser, and for plenty of good reason: in addition to having a straightforward search bar and integration with all of Google’s great tools (auto-complete in the browser!), users can customize their web experience with a host of add-ons. These add-ons, called “extensions” by the browser itself, can do amazing things — and boost your reporting abilities to make you more organized, connected, and efficient.
Here are five extensions that are popular for their great utility in any journalist’s arsenal, and they are all absolutely free to download.
What’s your favorite Chrome extension? Let us know in the comments.
Reporters everywhere are singing the praises of OneTab because it beautifully solves one of the biggest pain points for online journalists: the agonizing slow-down of a computer once it crosses its maximum threshold for open browser tabs. If you tend to have dozens and dozens of tabs open at any given time, this extension will speed up your computer without losing all of your hard-earned tabs.
OneTab does exactly what its name promises, condensing all tabs (no matter how many) onto one single web page full of links with a single click of a button. Users can then break out a tab from the list to use, break out all tabs or exit out of tabs right within the list with a single click. The extension cuts down on the memory-zapping powers of multiple tabs and keeps browser windows simple, so you can actually read tabs.
Completely free, with no ads or pop-ups to deal with, OneTab is not only the best solution to consolidate tabs, but it’s also a tool that the developers are continuing to refine — and it’s the journalists answer to a messy browser.
A vital piece of journalism is being able to make professional connections with PR contacts, sources and others in the industry. But, with everyone scattered on all forms of social media, it can be a hassle to just find the right person on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
Rapportive cuts all of the fruitless Google searching by automatically displaying all relevant contact information from someone who sends an email to you, no extra effort required. Once an email pops up, the Rapportive sidebar not only shows a contact’s Twitter handle or Facebook link, but also recent tweets, a link to the last email exchange you had with that person, and their listings on extra social media groups like AngelList. Interested in connecting on social media? Just tap “Connect” to the relevant information and it’s taken care of.
It’s an easy tool that saves time, but it’s important to note that Rapportive is available for Gmail only. Regardless, it’s easy to implement and a timesaver for menial tasks.
Okay, this is actually two apps, not one, but both Boomerang and Boomerang Calendar are a perfect pair, working in concert to make emails and calendar work in concert together to save time and make scheduling efficient.
Boomerang has two important functions that make all the difference in managing emails: allowing emails to be sent later, and the actual “boomerang” of important emails back to the top of the inbox. For example, journalists dread sending a Friday night email, so you can use Boomerang to send the email first thing Monday morning and also let it remind you if the email has not been responded to within a given period of time. This is the perfect tool to use when talking with sources and checking in with PR people — no more Post-It notes or reminders to get lost in the shuffle. Plus, it all goes back to the top of the inbox, so you don’t have to root around for it later.
Boomerang Calendar amplifies Boomerang’s abilities by allowing users to schedule things directly to the calendar from email by scanning the language in an email for dates and times. So, when that source finally responds to an email, you can check free times without even leaving the mail window.
The small shortcuts these extensions make have a big impact — you’d be surprised at how quickly scheduling becomes with both of them. Keep in mind though, like Rapportive, this is also a gMail service only.
Twitter is a vital part of the journalists’ day — especially when it comes to tracking trending stories and reporting on breaking news. But, oddly enough, Twitter is the worst place to take advantage of Twitter, because it limits vision to a single feed and doesn’t allow for real-time tracking of interactions.
TweetDeck is a classic alternate client for Twitter, and it fits in so neatly with the Chrome browser. Because it’s directly integrated through the Chrome extension, TweetDeck actually acts like a fully-realized browser tool — providing alerts and allowing for quick responses via pop-ups. Plus, there’s no chance of gumming up the browser itself with multiple tabs of TweetDeck. Chrome will automatically eliminate any duplicates of the app to keep it down to one tab.
Take advantage of Twitter with Tweetdeck, and you’ll find that you can passively collect a lot of information that would take active searching on many other platforms.
Completely free, cross-platform, and efficient, tons of journalists take advantage of Pocket to save articles to a central source, and never forget inspiration for pitches or stories. Of course, it becomes more useful, efficient and effective when all it takes to save a story is a single click.
Once the Pocket extension is installed within a browser, it just needs to be synced with an existing (free) Pocket account. Then, articles can be saved, tagged and synced automatically across all platforms, including mobile and browser versions of Pocket. Because its integrated within the browser, Pocket is able to quickly target, read and save everything, so it won’t take long to save.
Voracious readers should take advantage of Pocket to stay on track and on top of every story, especially because it costs nothing to set up.