How to find people around the World
How to find people around the World
To look for and to find successfully people around the World is one of the most important things for the investigative journalist in the Global Era we live in. The journalist might look for somebody because he or she is a crook, ex prisoner, drug trafficker or is mentioned in the World news for whatever reasons. To find and to contact these people as soon as possible is very important for a follow up story.
By Alexenia Dimitrova24 Hours DailySofia, BulgariaE-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
To look for and to find successfully people around the World is one of the most important things for the investigative journalist in the Global Era we live in. The journalist might look for somebody because he or she is a crook, ex prisoner, drug trafficker or is mentioned in the World news for whatever reasons. To find and to contact these people as soon as possible is very important for a follow up story.In my 20 years long practice as journalist I have had many different reasons to look for people around the Globe. But since July 2002 I am looking for them mainly because I started in 24 Hours Daily series about missing relatives around the World. The main purpose of it is to reunite long time split families. This means that I need to find successfully people where ever they supposed to be.I always follow some very important steps:1. Gather as much as possible personal information about the people on quest – mainly first and family names, and if possible – the middle initial from different sources as living relatives, letters, documents etc. 2. If it is not very common name – is easier - put it on the Google search box. Many times you will be surprised to see that the quested person is there. He might have a personal site. He might participate in an Internet forum. He might be related with a company or other group of people.3. If you do not find anything - do not forget to try different name’s spellings. For instance the name of the Bulgarian ex communist leader Todor Jivkov can be spelled also Todor Zhivkov. The name Iordan Iordanov can be spelled Jordan Jordanov, or Yordan Yordanov.4. Do not forget that in some cases the family names ending on –ov, could be changed to –off. Even women’s names can end up with –ov, -off.5. Do not forget also that some names in the non-English speaking countries can differ by spelling. For instance in Germany, France and Spanish speaking territories the Bulgarian family name Chervenkov can be spelled Tshervenkov, Tshervenkove etc. Some names could be spelled on tens of different ways... Try all of them.6. Do not forget if is possible to clarify trough other sources has the quested person ever changed his name. This was the case very often in the Cold War. If yes – try again the new name. 7. If nothing comes up with Google – it is time to try something different. Let’s go on so called public records. 8. Unfortunately they are electronically available only in the USA. See www.knowx.com This is only one of many US public records databases. It is paid as most of such databases but do not give up. Typing in the search box the name of the quested person at least will give you a clue is he on the records at all and also in what State he lives.9. If you can afford to pay – which is the best possible alternative -you have no problem – you will get the searched phone and address. But if you can not afford to pay, then you must go to any online free phone directory. The most popular are in www.yahoo.com and www.switchboard.com.10. For other countries except the USA you have no public records on line. But you have many free web based phone directories over the World. You can reach them trough www.teldir.com. Simply follow the link for the quested country. 11. There you might choose among many phone directories in a country. But I would advise you to use mostly as most reliable ones these, which are on the native language of the chosen country. This means that you must spell also the name of the person on the same language. 12. If you do not find anything you must start from the beginning. Spend long hours talking with other sources asking details, which can be helpful in your research. Ask for kept letters, pictures, envelopes and all kind of documents. Sometimes on an envelope or picture I have been able to recognise the last known addresses, eventually changed names or spelling of the original ones. After that you can start again looking for names through www.Google.com, the Public records and Phone Directories. 13. If you are enough lucky to find the quested people, you can call them by phone. But if you have enough time for the publication – prefer to write them a regular letter. The chance they answer you is growing up. Have in mind to count the time difference between the World time zones. If you do not find anybody, leave a voice message explaining shortly who you are and what you want. Kindly ask them to call or e-mail you back. 14. If somebody answer to your phone call, introduce yourself with the kindest voice you have and ask are they the people in question. Sometimes they hang up the phone. Sometimes still sleeping they ask you to repeat the question. Sometimes I ask them to give me their e-mail or postal addresses to send them detailed information about what I call them. 15. Simply have in mind that after 11 September 2001 most of the people are reluctant to talk or to answer letters or e-mails from an unknown idiot on the other edge of the planet. Told them some personal details, how long you were in journalism etc. Sometimes this helps very much.