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Find News Articles About People

This article has been archived and may no longer be updated.


Genie Tyburski, Web Manager, The Virtual Chase


18 September 2001. A TVC site visitor asks:

Is there a database I can check to find major news articles about a person? I have used AutoTrackXP and ChoicePoint Online.

Researchers use tools like AutoTrackXP or ChoicePoint Online to find people or assets, or to conduct due diligence. Finding news stories about people requires consulting other databases and applying vastly different search strategies.

People finding databases, like Accurint, AutoTrackXP, or ChoicePoint Online (no longer available), typically unite data having something in common; for example, a personal name, address, phone number, or SSN. Searchers usually query these databases by entering a name, address, phone number, or a combination of these criteria.

Other databases exist for news searching. These vary in coverage (current vs. historical), scope (regional vs. national or global) and price (e.g., subscription-based vs. pay-per-use, pay-per-search vs. pay-per-article, hourly vs. transactional). While these databases generally provide greater flexibility with respect to query formulation, their repeated successful use requires an understanding of free-text searching, Boolean logic, and proximity connectors, not to mention proficiency with a search language that differs from system to system. (For more information, see Search Tutorials below.)

It is not sufficient, for example, in conducting a search for news articles about me, simply to enter my name (as you might conduct a search for assets or litigation using a people finding tool). A news article may report my name as you enter it; or it may insert a middle initial, record my full first name (Genie is a nickname.), give my maiden name, or misspell my last or first names (Tybursky rather than Tyburski, Jeanne rather than Genie). Free text research systems do not forgive such variations as easily as the tools used primarily for people finding. Unlike Accurint and AutoTrackXP, news databases do not produce reports showing a likely connection between two people based on a matching social security number or other data.

Prior to starting the news search, consider whether you are likely to find mention of the individual in regional, national or international stories. Also decide whether you want current or historical news, or both. Then select the appropriate sources.

Broad Scope

  • Dow Jones Interactive (now Factiva; also available via Lexis)

  • Lexis

  • Dialog (also available via Westlaw)

Limited Scope

Next, learn the search language of the systems you want to query. This means reading the online help documentation, and perhaps, even attending training classes. Understand that there is no universal search language and that not all systems support natural language queries. For example, Factiva supports the "same" connector for finding two or more terms within the same paragraph. Lexis and Dialog provide similar results with "within" and "near" connectors, respectively.


Finally, when searching for news articles about people, try entering the individual's name in a variety of ways. Below appear suggestions. Replace information in quotations with the appropriate connector.

  • (first name "or" nickname) "within 3" last name (use spelling variations, if necessary)

  • last name "within 10" something specific about the person or event (e.g., professor, doctor, expert witness, accident, robbery, fraud)

  • last name "within 10 or 15" business affiliation (Business affiliation could be a company name or the name of a business associate. News articles often quote people by their last name and company affiliation only.)


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Created: 18 September 2001
Revised: 27 November 2007 (archived with text revisions)
URL: https://www.virtualchase.com/articles/archive/news_search.html

Suggestions: Genie Tyburski, tvceditor [at] virtualchase [dot] com