Looking forward to the future of journalism

Meet Chris Lykins, the funny weather guy at the Express-News

Chris Lykins, Comedic Genius Behind Weather Updates

If you read weather updates on Facebook from the San Antonio Express-News, then you’re keenly aware that it’s summer and the forecaster is not happy about it. “There is no weather,” a typical forecast reads. “There is only this. Always this. Unchanging. Eternal. Forever. This.” Then there was this gem: “It’s mostly sunny and almost … Read more

Meet the real reporter in the new Netflix movie ‘The Most Hated Woman in America’

Adam Scott plays a reporter based on John MacCormack in Netflix movie

“The Most Hated Woman in America” is a new Netflix movie about Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an outspoken atheist who mysteriously went missing in Austin in 1995 — along with $600,000. No one knew what happened to her. And it’s likely no one ever would if it hadn’t been for a series of investigative articles written … Read more

How to transcribe with Trint: An interview with CEO Jeff Kofman


Buried in my desk drawer is a scratched-up relic — a mini-cassette recorder that I used all the time as a young reporter to transcribe interviews. Now it looks like a discovery at an archaeological dig compared to my high-tech smart phone, which lets me record interviews for hours and share files instantly. But even … Read more

How shoe-leather reporting uncovered a bizarre bankruptcy tied to Senator Carlos Uresti

Patrick Danner story about Carlos Uresti

Earlier this year, Express-News business writer Patrick Danner set out to write a story about the rising number of oil and gas companies going bust in South Texas. What he found instead was a bizarre saga about a bankrupt company accused of fraud and its hidden ties to Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio. … Read more

New search tips for 2014 from Google research scientist Daniel Russell

I couldn’t attend the 2014 Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in San Francisco this year. But thankfully, Google researcher Daniel Russell was there. He gave another excellent presentation about search-engine strategies and posted his advice online. As the Uber Tech Lead at Google, Dan studies how people search the web. He started sharing little-known search … Read more

Telling stories about the unthinkable: How three journalists shined a spotlight on child abuse

In February 2009, an 8-year-old girl from Schertz died, alone, of acute appendicitis — a disease that could have easily been treated if caught in time. In the hours leading up to her death, people concerned about the girl — including officers from the Schertz Police Department — had warned the Texas Department of Child … Read more

Review of the SteadyTracker UltraLite and tips from company owner Rene Kropf

The SteadyTracker UltraLite doesn't rely on a gimbal

I have kids. Which means I own a video camera. Which means I chase my kids around with my video camera, trying to catch them in action. And the footage always looks shaky and horrible. So I’ve read more than my fair share of reviews about stabilizers, Glidecams and Steadicams. They rely on gimbals and … Read more

More awesome search tips from Google expert Daniel Russell, with real-world examples

Daniel Russell, research master at Google
Daniel Russell, research master at Google
Daniel Russell, research master at Google

When a research scientist at Google offers to show you how to unlock the full potential of the powerful search engine, you pay attention.

Last year Daniel Russell spoke at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Boston. Dan showed us search techniques that can make anyone a better researcher. Some tips I already knew. Others I thought I understood but didn’t. And some I had no idea existed.

I thought Dan’s talk was eye-opening — and others had the same reaction. My post about his presentation last year was widely shared, so there’s enormous interest to learn more about how Google works and how to use it effectively.

You gotta know a little bit about how to make Google dance. This is all mother’s milk for investigative reporters.”

Since that conference a year ago, Dan began offering online classes. I’ve had a year to practice many of these techniques. And about a week ago, Dan spoke again at the IRE conference in San Antonio with even more advice.

“You gotta know a little bit about how to make Google dance,” Dan said at his panel, Digging in with Google. “This is all mother’s milk for investigative reporters.”

I thought it’d be a good idea to compile some of the interesting new techniques, and revisit tips Dan discussed last year with some real-world examples of how journalists used them in actual news stories. Many of these methods also work on other search engines, such as Yahoo! and Bing.

These tips are for journalists, researchers, librarians and anyone else who wants to learn new ways to find information. Google will never replace the importance of shoe-leather reporting — knocking on doors and talking to real people. But Google can help reporters find the right doors to knock on and reveal surprising details about the people you’re talking to. Knowing how to find obscure information on the Internet is a vital skill for any journalist.

Read moreMore awesome search tips from Google expert Daniel Russell, with real-world examples

Nickel and dimed: Find out which gas stations have faulty pumps that overcharge motorists

If you’ve ever suspected your neighborhood gas station is stiffing you at the pump, you might already know you can file a complaint with the Weights and Measures Program at the Texas Department of Agriculture. The agency’s inspectors verify the accuracy of gas pumps. But which stations rack up the most complaints, flunk the most … Read more

How Mexican cartels launder drug money in San Antonio (Hint: Check the North Side)

Express-News reporter Guillermo Contreras wrote a story detailing a federal investigation of two Mexican brothers: Mauricio and Alejandro Sánchez Garza. Federal officials allege the brothers laundered drug money in San Antonio for Mexican cartels.