Five Expert Tips to Find Quotes using Nexis®

26 October 2021 00:00

Quotes are crucial to bringing a story to life along with adding credibility, so it makes sense that they are at the very core of good journalism. With a 24/7 news cycle generating enormous amounts of content every second of every day, it can be difficult to keep up. While using a search engine like Google may be easy, it can be a hassle to find exactly what you’re searching for, especially finding that perfect broadcast quote.

That’s where Nexis comes in. Nexis has access up to 45 years of news archives from around the world, including a robust database of transcripts available at your fingertips. Here, we share five tips from our Customer Success Managers on how to get the most out of your Nexis transcript search.

Tip #1: The More Specific, The Better

Just like using a vaguely relevant quote within a story adds little value, performing a broad search will not deliver the results you are looking for; instead, you want to go deep and specific. The key to getting the results you want is using a Nexis Power Search. Here, you’re able to select transcript sources, choose index terms, and set date ranges to narrow down your search. The NexisPower Search function allows you to set meaningful parameters for any transcript search you might have.

For example, let's say you got a tip for an interesting quote from Today Show segment on vaccines from within the last week, but that’s all the information you have available. Nexis allows you to organize search terms to find just that. In this case, you’d want to first select “All News Transcripts” in Sources, then search by the program name by typing show(“today show”) and vaccines. You would then use the drop-down menu under the “date” section and select previous week. This would yield all transcripts from Today Show mentioning vaccines in the past week.

Five Expert Tips to Find Quotes using Nexis

Pro Tip: The Sources box allows you to select which news source transcripts you would like to search. For more general searches across shows and networks, “All News Transcripts” will give you the most results. However, if you know exactly which publication or news outlet the transcript is located, you can select it here.

Tip #2: Get Specific with Segments

To help to narrow down to only shows, quotes or search results that are highly relevant, you can search by segment within Nexis—a functionality that cannot be done in a standard search engine. Segments are searchable parts of the transcript. They act like descriptors or fields and allow you to search by a range of factors, including show, state, byline and even the body length of the transcript.

Formatting can result in different search results, so when performing a segment search, it’s important to keep formatting in mind. Otherwise, you may have to dig through unnecessary transcripts. Additionally, knowing what these segments mean and do is vital to getting the most out of your transcript search.

For instance, searching body copy of a transcript is fairly simple and only requires parenthesis around intended search term. For example, if you wanted to perform a search for Boris Johnson, you’d format your segment search thus: body (borisjohnson).

However, searching an exact phrase in a headline or lead paragraph—formatted as hand lead, respectively—requires quotations within the parenthesis, e.g. hlead (“borisjohnson”). Terms and connectors are also built into Power Search to allow the user to ensure they are utilizing them correctly.

If all of this sounds like a foreign language to you, it is but a logical one! Boolean logic, the algebraic algorithm that powers searches across the world, is essentially its own language. Fortunately, Nexis has in-product tips and reference materials that breakdown the terms, connectors and segments. There is also an Advanced Search for News that makes it simple to search by whatever segment you wish.

Advanced news search

Tip #3: Searching for Interviews

Nexis allows you to be as specific as possible with segments to search within the transcript. Searching for articles mentioning Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is as simple as typing body(gretathunberg).

However, what if you wanted to get results where Thunberg was being interviewed, as opposed to just mentioned? In this case, you would want to type body(allcaps(thunberg)) in the search box. Typically, when someone is interviewed, the transcript will have that individual’s name written in all caps. Therefore, by using the “allcaps” segment, you are narrowing in the search to transcripts that only include this individual being interviewed.

On the other hand, if you wanted to search a transcript for a video clip of an individual being interviewed, you would use the segment “begin video clip” before your search term. So, searching for a transcript where a clip of Thunberg was used, you would use “begin video clip” w/4 thunberg. This will yield results of transcripts where she was featured but not actually interviewed.

Additionally, you could type body(allcaps(thunberg)) and not “begin video clip” w/4 thunberg. This would return only those transcripts in which Thunberg was directly mentioned or interviewed but not those with a video clip of Thunberg being interviewed.

Bonus Tip: Capitalization does not matter when typing in segment searches. It’s not necessary to capitalize the names of shows like Today Show or a person’s name such Boris Johnson or Greta Thunberg.

Tip #4: Differentiate with Your Search

Fully narrowing down a search can be difficult in some situations. For example: In 2016, Gretchen Carlson sued Roger Ailes of Fox over retaliation and sexual harassment. But Carlson was previously a host on Fox & Friends and The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson on Fox News. How do you differentiate between transcripts where Carlson is doing the reporting versus those where she’s being reported on?

With Nexis, breaking up segments allows you to do that. In this case, if you wanted to find articles about Carlson’s sexual harassment allegations, you could type in hlead(Gretchen carlson). This search would show transcripts where Carlson is mentioned in the headline or lead paragraph, likely indicating the story was about her. This same function can be applied to specific topics as well, to show all articles featuring those terms in the headline or lead paragraph. Then, on the left sidebar within the search, you’re able to see which news sources are covering it and how many transcripts are available from each source.

Alternatively, if you wanted to search a transcript from a show that Gretchen Carlson was one of the anchors, you could do that by typing byline(gretchencarlson)or filling in the Byline field on the Advanced Search: News page.

Tip #5: Keep Up with Politics

Transcripts are available for more than just news archives. By changing the source to one of our government-focused options like Government Publications & Documents, Nexis users can access government press briefings, board addresses, or even congressional testimony transcripts. This can be an especially helpful tool for when journalists want to ensure all quotes are exact. To narrow down the search, you could use the same segment as previously mentioned, body(allcaps(psaki)) to yield all White House press briefings in which White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was speaking. Setting a date range or including a segment with an individual’s name will allow for incredibly accurate results.

Power Search

The applications for transcripts are endless and knowing how to search them on Nexis is an essential tool.

Experience the power of the Nexis Power and Advanced searches today!

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