Unnecessary Evil: News Tracking

October 29, 2007

It’s free and easy to track current events and up-to-the-minute news about informant-related issues. Follow these simple steps and you will have access to all of the main stream media coverage of the issue. You can watch stories as they break, or check in every week to catch up on all of the stories that have developed since you last visited.

USE GOOGLE TO GATHER THE STORIES

Google allows you to build your own free customizable news page that will gather stories, mainly from the United States, that cover the topics of your choosing.

Step 1:  Create a personal Google account

  • Go to the Google Homepage at www.google.com
  • Click “Sign-in” in the upper right-hand corner of the page
  • Click “Create an account now”
    • Enter an email account for your username (it does not have to be a Gmail account)
    • Enter personal password and re-enter
    • Complete “Word Verification”
    • Click “I accept”

 

Step 2:  Create your custom news page

  • Go to the Google Homepage at www.google.com
  • Click “News”
  • Click “Sign in” in the upper right-hand corner and complete with email and password
  • Click “Edit this personalized page”
  • Click “Add a custom section”
  • Enter the keyword “snitch” and click “add section”
  • Click “Add a custom section” again
  • Enter the keyword “informant” and click “add section”
  • You can remove all of the standard news sections except “Top Stories”:
    • Click on the section that you want to remove
    • Check “Delete section” and then click “Save changes”
  • In the “Edit this personalized page” box click “Save layout.”  The search buttons on the left should be updated to reflect your changes.

 

Step 3:  Read the news

  • Go to the Google Homepage at www.google.com
  • Click “News”
  • Click “Sign in” in the upper right-hand corner and complete with email and password
  • Click on the “informant” tab to read the latest news about informants, then click on the “snitch tab to read stories that use that term
  • To read the full story, click on the story’s heading
  • News articles remain available for a few weeks so you can stay fully informed even if you only have time to read the news every week or so. 

 

RECEIVE YOUR STORIES BY RSS FEED

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a way to share news headlines and other regular updates like blog entries on the web. Some people like to receive customized news by RSS feed so that all of the stories are in one place and can be reviewed more quickly.

Users of RSS can set a "feed reader" or "aggregator" to check RSS-enabled web pages like the ones below and get automatic displays of new articles or action alerts. Many large and small web sites and blogs offer RSS as a way for readers to stay up to date. Web-based feed readers and news aggregators require no software installation and make the user's "feeds" available on any computer with web access.

To learn more about RSS and how to use it, see the Wikipedia site or "Fine-Tuning Your Filter for Online Information," (from NYTimes.com).

Step 1:  Set up Google Reader

  • On your Google News page, click “RSS” on the left side of the screen
  • At the top of the page, set the option to “Subscribe to this feed using Google Reader”
  • Click “Subscribe Now”
  • Click “Add to Google Reader”

 

Step 2:  Use your favorite RSS feed reader to receive the stories

  • Open your favorite RSS feed reader
  • Add the Google Reader feed to your other feeds
  • Now your Google custom news stories come to you through your RSS reader

 

THINGS TO LOOK FOR

As you read your informant and snitch stories, here are a few things to look for:

  • Screen:  You may not want to read every article that comes up.  Some articles containing the keyword “snitch” may be in the context of entertainment news.  Lots of articles containing the keyword “informant” are basic police-blotter-style stories about cases involving an informant.
     
  • Informants committing crimes:  Informants have been known to commit crimes, including murder, while on the government payroll.  Police may even authorize informants to commit crimes while they are working for the government.  Look for information showing the criminal history of informants who are in the news, especially if the seriousness of their own crimes might outweigh the crimes they are helping solve.
     
  • Wrongful search or arrest:  Sometimes police act on inaccurate informant tips that lead to wrongful searches, arrests, injuries and even death.  You might find cases where the police know that the informant is unreliable and still act on their tip without corroborating the information.
     
  • Unreliable testimony:  Informants might be under pressure to offer false testimony if they have an agreement with the government to “work off” their offense by accusing a specific number of other people of committing crimes.  Sometimes police and informants enter agreements where the informant gets paid for each accusation they make.  
     
  • Racial injustice:  News stories might suggest racial injustice, such as when a drug roundup operation occurs in the same neighborhood every year or when prosecutors habitually prosecute drug users as “dealers” in certain communities but not others.  Keep an eye out for stories that show the government treating people unequally in response to similar conduct.
     
  • Community mistrust:  Watch for articles describing neighborhoods where residents do not trust the police to protect them.  Look for solutions brought forward by the community.
     
  • Research:   Keep an eye out for articles referring to academic research or studies that may be helpful.
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