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
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.
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,
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.)