The no-source woes of journalism

Posted by Brianna Shawhan

Journalists all know the feeling – your editor or teacher gives you an assignment that requires you to gather a ton of not-so-easy-to-find sources, many of being people who might not live in your town. What do you do?

One good thing about living in the digital age is that the Internet offers a plethora of information. But even so, it’s often still difficult to find just what you’re looking for. Luckily, a new website called HARO (Help A Reporter Out) was created to ease the frustration of finding difficult sources, and it’s free.

If you’re a reporter, all you have to do is submit a query stating your name and company, contact information, what your article is about, and what kind of source you are looking for. The query will be posted on their website and twitter (which has over 49 thousand followers) for sources to find. It’s that easy.

Currently, there are over 132 thousand active sources, over 29 thousand journalists, and over 200 queries being posted daily. News stations and companies from around the world have started using HARO, including ABC, CBS,  The New York Times, and Meredith Corporation.

On HARO’s feedback page, Lenore Skenazy, a columnist and founder of Free Range Kids said this about HARO:

“As a columnist who writes about everything from bioterrorism to Barbie, I can’t rely on my ‘same old sources,’ ever! That’s why HARO is so important to me: I can find an expert about absolutely anything ON DEADLINE. A lot of experts, in fact. And some of them eventually become my ‘same old sources,’ because they’re so smart about so many different things. HARO has given me so many great quotes, story leads and ideas. I LOVE HARO!”

But HARO doesn’t just help out reporters, small businesses have gained exposure by becoming a source for publications.

“I have had tremendous success with HARO. We are a small business operating an online travel company in Canada and have most recently been featured on msnbc.com & Globe and Mail with the help of HARO.”

– Jason L. Sarracini, Travel Vacations Limited

Has anyone used HARO? If so, what are your positive and negative thoughts on it? And if you haven’t used it before, do you plan on trying it out?

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4 responses to “The no-source woes of journalism

  1. Wow. This is an amazing thing for reporters. I can see this site have a lot of users (myself included) and making it very far. Where did you hear about this????

  2. This is fantastic. I was writing a Drake Mag article last year, and needed to find a very specific kind of psychologist as a source, but wasn’t able to, so this would have been really helpful!

  3. erinmchenry01

    I love this site!!! I’ve never used it, but just having this resource available is awesome! I do remember I tried to sign up for it during J91, but the website said students were not allowed — meaning they wouldn’t let me ask for help from other reporters since I’m still in college. I think that’s the only frustrating thing about HARO, but I’ve only got a few more years of school anyways!

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