How we review
The Reporters’ Lab aims to produce reviews that are consistent, independent, fair and, above all, useful for a reporter with little time or patience for technical details. We use full versions of products against a curated set of documents and tests so you can compare apples to apples and figure out what’s worth the money, how hard it will be to learn, and how long it might take. Whenever we can, we contact companies to address specific product critiques and include their responses when they’re useful to users. We don’t let companies read the reviews in full or approve or reject content.
There’s not a lot of consumer-grade software out there targeted specifically at reporters. Although there are plenty of technological solutions to common newsroom problems, they’re spread across dozens of different programs often meant for entirely different users.
Some are costly. Others are more trouble than they’re worth. And if you’re a reporter juggling assignments and under constant deadline pressure, chances are you don’t have the time or the energy to sort it all out on your own.
That’s where the Reporters’ Lab Reviews come in.
We created this review system specifically to test, rate and make sense of tools that can help journalists find stories in public records and data. It’s designed to point reporters in the right direction quickly so they can decide what they need to make their jobs easier and get back to work faster.
If you’re looking to get in and out, use our Tool Finder to narrow down what you’re looking for. Reviews are organized by type, and by selecting one you can get an overview of what we’ve tested so far, sorted by rating.
From the tool list, you can get the basics of the software, the price and a quick-hit version of our overall review. If that’s all you need, just click “Get it” to navigate directly to the product website.
But if you’re looking for more justification, check out our full review for a breakdown of what we found in our testing. You’ll find even more ratings, based on aspects like documentation, usability and community.
At the bottom of the review, you’ll also find detailed results for every test our team ran on the software using our curated sets of sample documents contributed from actual reporting projects. These test results are useful if you’ve got a very specific problem to solve — or if you’re looking for additional documentation to convince your news directors and editors to shell out cash for the software you need.
We’ve even got a tutorial section to help reduce the learning curve for you.
Hopefully you’ll find our reviews helpful, but if you have any suggestions for improvements, products to test or anything else we can do to make it more useful, shoot me an email and let me know. You can also weigh in on the reviews in the comments.
Over time, we’ll add more products, test results and reviews — all in an effort to fulfill our overall mission of evaluating what product solutions are out there.
That’s the best way we know how to find the holes in existing reporting technology — and take steps to fill them.