Saturday, 13 October 2012

Tips for reporters 43. Finding people part 2

As explained in the previous post there really is no great secret to finding people.

In the olden days (that's pre-internet) there were telephone directories and communities; today there is the web and social networking.

However there are still a large number of people who fall in between these categories, although this will slowly fall as more people come of age and the older populations die away.

Of course in the future there will be other issues to deal with, namely the growing emphasis on privacy, which may or may not turn out to be an issue du jour.

But in the meantime let's work with what we have for the time being.

Always remember research is key. The more information you can collect the easier it is.

But let's not forget the obvious. Check electoral rolls, most decent newspapers have access to them nowadays. They range in sophistication with more or less data on them (name, address, public telephone numbers but also data such as ages, marriages, deaths, directorships and county court judgments (ccjs) - ie bankruptcies.

In the UK there is which is available to everyone. You get 10 free basic searches a day but you only get limited information. You have to pay for the premium details.

 It does come at a small charge. But even if you don't have access to this or are not inclined to spend your own money it is worth trying it out as it can give certain clues. Having tried it out on myself it was of limited value when free. However cross-referencing the info with a search engine would have given me a starting point for my searches.

Another simple method would be to type out the name of the person I'm searching for and mobile (in the US I guess that would be cell) or contact. It's especially useful when looking for councillors (although they ought to include their details on the council website many don't these days); other public officials or prominent local business people.

A lot are involved in other community projects, ie a local charity auction. Their contact details may well be on press releases put online. Or they may sit on the board of a local institution, a museum for example. In which case type in just their surname and where they are involved because in many cases these places are far more formal and less inclined to use first names.

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