Research/Reporting

Reporters Committee First Aid

☀☀☀☀ RCFP’s free First Aid app targets journalism issues for both national or neighborhood reporters. It offers quick answers to legal questions that arise when covering news. Topics range from public records to source confidentiality. The Reporters Committee provides a hotline for legal questions. The app encourages users to create an iFOIA account to request federal/state records. Since the release of First Aid Version 2.0 in 2013, it has not been updated. Though it is not as interactive as its partner app, Covering Schools, it still removes legal roadblocks. — Emily Taylor

ATsWeatherToGo

☀☀☀☀ Meteorology is an experience for all to enjoy with ATs Weather. Weatherman Aaron Tuttle of ABC Tulsa created the free app to take users beyond dull temperature predictions. You can learn about everything from dew points and humidity levels to air pressure. Maps show incoming weather fronts. A blog discusses environmental threats and newly set records. Simple navigation but also a tutorial. It incorporates  Road Angel roadside assistance service, though membership comes at a fee. Pop-up ads distract from app. Journalists with a future in meteorology/storm chasing: check it out. — Emily Taylor

RCFP Schools Guide

☀☀☀☀ Covering a newsworthy school event or education issue? Try the Reporters Committee’s free RCFP Schools Guide app. Created by journalists, it explains state laws to know when writing about schools and students. Version 1.0 was released in March 2015; no update yet. Guidelines range from open meetings to student privacy and are divided into categories such as interviews and photography. Layout is structured but interactive, allowing users to add personal notes and write stories complete with photos/videos and links. Helps reporters see beyond the restrictions they face. — Emily Taylor

Life360

☀☀☀ Life360 keeps journalists (or any users) safe when they are out in the field. You just hit the app’s panic button and it sends out a text, email and phone call to emergency contacts. The app features a map that displays recent crimes and nearby hospitals and police stations. Users can also view other users live on the map, useful for families and other groups.  This service provides a messaging system  so journalists can chat each other without memorizing and importing phone numbers. This app does cost five dollars a month, for the premium version. — Scotty Bara

Story of Life

☀☀☀☀☀ BBC Earth- The Story of Life, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, brings nature videos to life. Select a habitat, then drag videos into your collection. Title them, then post to Facebook or send in a text. Browse featured videos (from five to 20 minutes each) and develop new interests. The “Amazing Behaviors First Recorded” collection — “the unique behavior of species recorded for the very first time” — took me to those environments and produced a clear visualization with HDR. The video database holds seemingly unlimited knowledge for journalists researching nature. iOS or Android. — Sarah Hunt

☀☀☀☀☀ Attenborough’s Story of Life app offers a glimpse into a world mostly untouched. Explore with Sir David Attenborough during his 60 year career with BBC. With over 1000 videos, each is a few minutes long and offers users a view of Attenborough’s greatest moments. Users who enjoy engaging visuals will love this app. The qualified Attenborough gives sustainability journalists a fresh perspective on globalization and conservation in ways they likely haven’t considered. Attenborough Story of Life was released November 2016 and is available for free download. — Olivia Davila

Adobe Acrobat Reader

☀☀☀☀ Adobe Acrobat Reader: Annotate, Scan, & Send PDFs helps organize your work. Acrobat Reader can import files from other sources, allowing users to annotate papers, sign documents and convert text files into PDFs (Personal Document Format).  An important feature: you can scan anything into a PDF with your phone’s camera.  This app is similar to Google’s PhotoScan, but converts the scans into PDFs instead of photos. Acrobat Reader is a handy tool for reporters out in the field. — Scotty Bara

Power Thesaurus

☀☀☀☀☀ Every journalist needs a thesaurus. We’ve all been writing at some point and realized we’ve used the same phrase twice in one sentence. Power Thesaurus can help. Type in a short phrase or a word (such as reaction) and get a list of synonyms or related terms (response, backlash). Click on those words to bring up their synonyms. It’s simple and easy to use: you only search and tap. I use it to bring variety (range) and precision (clarity) to my writing. I recommend every journalist keep it on hand. — Chris McCrory

Momento

☀☀☀☀ Momento is like a diary from your childhood, but more useful. You create journal entries — text, photos, location — to track what you did, when and where. One minor issue is the dates (old photos show the date taken, not the date uploaded). Journalists might use the app to track their reporting and interactions with sources on a special project.  Apps like Evernote can do some of the same, but are not as focused. Momento works so well, I used it for a week and ended up with a journal of my personal life as well. — Chris McCrory

Medium

☀☀☀☀ Medium makes it easy to post and share content. With prominent U.S. figures such as President Barack Obama using accounts, journalists may find perspectives on topics they had not previously considered. According to an article on CNN, Medium receives about 30 million hits a month. Ev Williams, founder of Medium explains Medium is a network, leaving endless opportunities to those who use it. This app is free to both Apple and Android users; Medium also is available on desktops. — Olivia Davila

CreativeLive

☀☀☀ CreativeLive offers free online learning “by the World’s Top Experts.” Explanatory videos are only free if you watch them stream live — highly impractical. The classes cost from $50 to $300. For students and journalists, there are many Adobe and writing topics available, which could help refine important skills. If you are willing to pay, another option is Lynda.com. Subscribers pay $25 per month or $240 per year for unlimited access. Both CreativeLIve and Lynda.com are available in the app store for free and are desktop accessible. — Olivia Davila