The importance and benefits of online research

“Why don’t they block that?”, one of the participants asks me during my stay in Bangladesh. While I am trying to find an answer to that question another journalist interrupts me “Is that legal?”. Yes, it is.

It is incredible how much information you can get from institutions or people just by asking the right questions. Information that are publicly available for everyone who knows the free and legal online tools.

Online-Research is part and parcel of my work as an information specialist in Germany. And for our workshop it will be for selected bangladeshi journalists from both the writing press and the broadcast media, too. Most of them grew up with the internet: doing a Google search or using social media is part of their daily life. But the challenge, for journalists in Bangladesh, is that you can’t see the wood for the trees. The sheer mass of information might overchallenge journalists.

That’s why we focused on the following: how can we search more efficient? What sites can we use to get information about companies or persons? What are the social networks and how can we get good stories and content out of them? And finally: can we verify the information?

I was astonished that also in Bangladesh they had problems with fake news. The internet rears his ugly head worldwide. However, a great thing is: almost everyone in Bangladesh loves social media and the internet. Because of that you can find good stories easily – It seems as if there were, what we call, social media gold nuggets on every corner in Bangladesh. You just need to dig for them.

So, I let them try out tools and gave them case studies from Bangladesh. And the participants began to search for these stories and were crazy about testing the things they have just learned. And that’s where I found myself – a hot classroom in a training center outside of Dhaka and everyone was so concentrated on their task, that I heard the birds singing outside in the green garden.

One month later, the ties are still strong to my participants. Some of them wrote me e-mails, asking for some deeper insights into the tools that I showed them. For me it seems like the exchange started just now.

Written by Jörn Ratering