Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Docs to go

Wear a flash drive around your neck.

That's the great advice of Mike McGraw, a Pulitzer-winning special projects reporter with the Kansas City Star. He stopped by Wichita for the National Writers Workshop here this past weekend, then gave another ses-sion Monday for staffers here at The Eagle.

The reporting veteran of 35 years said he often finds himself talking to a source who says, “Well, I have that document, but it’s in my e-mail ... or on my hard drive.”

McGraw whips out the plug around his neck

“Here,” McGraw said he tells the source. “There’s plenty of room on this. And then we don’t have to deal with a FOIA request or any of the paperwork.”

One part of multimedia reporting that doesn’t take much effort is providing source documents for the web. Readers love to see where we got our information and documents are the backbone of great stories. Flash drives run between $15 and $25 per gigabyte.

Yet putting source documents on-line is something I still see a lot of reporters not doing.

And the web content people love you when you can bring them a PDF or an electronic copy, instead of a mound of papers they have to scan. Plus, you can load it onto your hard drive and cut down on that stack of papers that has been piling up on your desk for the past three years.


  1. Something that's extremely handy to also have in the newsroom is a fax-to-PDF number. That way, reporters in bureaus and out in the field don't have to scan documents, and web producers don't have to use a manual scanner. A lot of vendors will provide this service for just a few bucks per month. I had a positive experience using MyFax, but there are many more out there.

  2. Great tip, Danny. I'm passing this along to our newsroom, as we build our on-line tools.