People, Experts, and Consumer Watch

The Basics: phone numbers & addresses
I wish I could tell you we had some super-duper special people-finder tools. But we don’t. Here are some decent free sites instead.

  • Verizon (, then click on People Pages). The source. This is an online white pages. No reverse lookup, though.
  • Infospace ( This was one of the only sites that had my current address right! Includes a reverse lookup by address (just click on “search by phone” to reveal reverse phone and address lookup forms). Accuracy seems good here, too.
  • Switchboard ( Another good option – data seems as accurate as Infospace, and also includes reverse lookup under “search by phone.”
  • New Yorkers and where to find them
    Looking for interesting New Yorkers to profile? Here are a few tips.

  • Gothamist ( is an excellent way to stay on top of NYC arts, sports, events, and pop culture.
  • Gotham Gazette ( The same site that keeps you informed on the latest doings in NYC politics can help you find interesting stories in New York’s neighborhoods. Pay special attention to the Community Gazettes section.
  • New York Public Library branches ( frequently hold events, like storytelling hours, poetry readings, and seminars. Check out the one nearest you and see what’s on!
  • ( is an online forum for people who share similar interests to meet each other. Browse by city to find groups who may make interesting subjects (like the “NYC Boston Red Sox Meetup Group”). Possibly also of interest for the Consumer Watch segment if you want to expose a possible scam.
  • Finding experts
    Preparing a Roundtable discussion? New York City is full of experts, but how to find them?

  • Academics: Visit the website of a local university (start with Columbia). All universities have listings of faculty by department, and most include specific research interests of each faculty member. Can’t find a professor on short notice? How about a doctoral student? Try visiting the department HQ, if it’s at Columbia. Looking at the flyers on the wall there may lead you to interesting people.
  • Others: Who has spoken on this subject before? Search Factiva or LexisNexis to find transcripts or quotes from newspapers stories on related topics.
  • Consumer Watch

  • Craigslist ( is a good place to look at the services New Yorkers are seeking and providing (click on the services section). Some may surprise you!
  • Daily Candy ( is a daily newsletter reporting on shopping and service trends in a number of US cities, including New York.
  • Crain’s New York Business (access via Factiva, access restricted to current Columbia affiliates) is a weekly publication which covers all aspects of business in New York City. Search to find articles on a topic of interest.