Expertise Finder: Quick source search for journalists

Expertise Finder 2by Rachel Sanders

Next time you need to find that perfect “expert source” for a story you’re working on, forget Google and head straight for Expertise Finder instead.

Type in the subject you’re writing about and the website will comb through its database of 20,000 media-friendly academics from universities and colleges across North America to find the ones that fit.

The site, formerly known as Media Spot Me, has evolved over the past couple of years into a resource that co-creator Stavros Rougas says he wished he had access to when he was working as a journalist on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin. The site, says Rougas, gives journalists a jump-start on the storytelling process.

“Let’s say creating content is a five step process. Expertise Finder can get you to step two or three faster,” he told Story Board in a phone interview this week.

It’s free to search and contact academics through the site and there’s no login required. The site got a full overhaul earlier this year, making it fully mobile friendly and easier to use. The interface now works as well on tablet and phone as it does on a computer screen. The database search is also agnostic – meaning it’s driven by expertise only, there’s no way for sources or institutions to buy a higher spot in the search results. And the search is non-linear, allowing for easy exploration and potentially interesting discoveries.

“You can poke around like on Wikipedia and one contact can lead you to a world of other possibilities,” says Rougas.

Rougas and Expertise Finder’s co-creator Ebrahim Ashrafizadeh are continuing to add experts to their database. They make their living by creating faculty directories for universities and colleges.

“We build expert directories for universities which allows them to use it internally as a faculty directory. We power those as well. So that’s the way we make money and bring them in,” he says.

Academics are motivated to add their names to the database by the promise of media exposure.

“They want to get their name and their brand out. Younger faculty, in particular, if they’re not tenured they want to get their name out there. It’s important in order to build their career,” says Rougas.

The tool has career-building potential for journalists, as well. For staff journalists, the site offers an easy way to diversify the sources that appear in stories. As for freelancers, Rougas says the site can help us maximize our earning potential.

“If you can find sources quicker, then you can take on other things. And then you can do more writing,” he says, “which is great. The more quality content that’s produced, the better overall for society.”

“To journalists I say: bookmark it. It’s the tool I wished for as a starting point while working as a TV producer.”

Posted on May 29, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , ,

One Response

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  1. Written by Stavros Rougas
    on June 1, 2015 at 6:55 am
    Reply · Permalink

    One thing I would add is that finding an expert quickly allows you to take on projects that never made financial sense before.

    I’m the co-founder of Expertise Finder, and as a journalist I would too often get little credit for the labour intensive parts, like finding some a niche person, and too much credit for other parts.

    People would think it was ‘magic’ versus hard time consuming work.

    We built to help you do more of quality in less time. Don’t hesitate to email me for help or with suggestions (even critical ones):

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