14 Free Resources for Building a Media List

magazinesNot everyone can afford a subscription to Vocus or Cision. If you are one of them, and you need to build a media list (and you don’t have a friend that will do it for you), I suggest doing the legwork yourself. You can find most outlets for free on the Web, as there are tons of free directories of media information out there.

If you need to build a media list from scratch, I suggest starting with identifying the outlets you want to target. Once you have a list of target outlets, visit the website for each outlet to research it thoroughly. Each media organization provides different levels of media information you can use to fine-tune your lists.

To get you started on finding outlets you might want to target, here are 14 or so resources you can use for free to learn about outlets that cover your industry or news in your part of the world:

The Internet Public Library

The Internet Public Library includes a list of popular magazines and newspapers organized by their respective subject area or geographic focus. Each individual listing includes a brief description of the outlet’s coverage area, along with a link to their website. Other similar directories include World Newspapers & Magazines (some of these listings are outdated, but it’s still a good starting point), the Yahoo! News and Media directory and Mondo Times.

LinkedIn Search

LinkedIn is a great resource for finding professional journalists. With LinkedIn’s new search features, you can dive deeper into user data to find contacts that fit your criteria. For example, I recently created a search to find contacts with “reporter” as their professional title within a 30 mile radius of my zipcode. There were more than 18,000 contacts, but I could easily narrow this search by limiting other fields or adding a keyword like “business”. LinkedIn also lets you save five searches, so you can be alerted to new contacts that join LinkedIn matching your criteria.

MediaOnTwitter Wiki

We’ve talked about the MediaOnTwitter wiki several times in this blog already, but it’s worth mentioning again. The database is currently going through an upgrade and will soon be much easier to use. As Twitter continues to experience explosive growth, no doubt will it continue to expand as a medium for reaching journalists and bloggers. You can learn more about the MediaOnTwitter wiki from PRSarahEvans.com. While MediaOnTwitter is the most comprehensive list, there’s also a Media People Using Twitter wiki that was created by My Creative Team (in case you wanted more).


Alltop is an alternative to setting up RSS feeds for all your favorite blogs on a subject. Alltop has a team of keen-eyed experts that work to aggregate “All” the “Top” blogs on a particular subject. I regularly read the “PR” and “Journalism” categories on Alltop to keep up with current trends and developments relevant to the subjects I write about on this blog. With a few mouse clicks, Alltop will show you any number of the “top” outlets you’ll want to consider for your media list.


Technorati is a blog search engine. You can use it to search for blog posts on any subject. The company also manages a list of the Top 100 Blogs, which is a great place to find the world’s most popular blogs on subjects you’re interested in. You can also explore Technorati by many different categories to find relevant blogs. Some of the more popular categories include Technology, Business, Entertainment, IT and Finance.

Congress.org Media Guide

This is a useful directory of media outlets organized by your geographic area. You can click on an interactive map to find newspapers in different areas of the country. Each listing includes a description of the outlet, along with some contacts for the publication (geared toward those that cover politics, but still useful).

Audit Bureau of Circulations

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) lists its members on its website, including Business Publications, Consumer Magazines and Newspapers.


PRSourceCode provides a variety of paid PR services for agencies and professionals working in technology-related sectors. While the company provides paid services, it has a free listing of business and technology publications on its website, linked to the sites. This is an excellent place to start if you’re building a tech-focused media list.

FAIR’s Media Contact List

This organization provides a list of media outlets – really designed for you to voice your opinion (or complaint) about media bias and censorship. Most of the contact information is generic, so you could use it as a jumping off point for major outlets. This list has basic contact information for outlets like CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, USA Today, Newsweek and Time.

HARO (Help A Reporter Out)

I’m sure you’ve heard about HARO. If you’re not one of the nearly 80,000 people using the service, it’s a free service that connects journalists with expert sources. Each email (there are three a day) includes reporter queries that you can respond to (provided you have a relevant pitch or expert to offer up). But what if you’re not a fit for the opportunity, but are for the outlet? Keep track of journalists and bloggers that regularly write about topics related to your subject areas – then research those outlets and contacts to add to your media list. What better way to learn what a journalist is interested in than to see the types of experts they regularly reach out to through HARO.


Regator aggregates the best blog posts on different subjects. While Alltop will show you the best blogs on a subject, Regator shows you the best posts, saving you even more time. I’ve just started using this service (it’s another of our favorite Atlanta-based startups), and its useful for finding the most relevant posts on subjects I’m interested in. The best posts are hand-selected by experienced journalists, so you’ll find nothing but great quality here.


TradePub works with business and trade magazine publishers to market free subscriptions to qualified professionals. This is your one-stop-shop for subscribing to a wide-range of free business and trade publications of interest to you. It’s also a great place to find outlets you’ll want to add to your media list.

TVA Productions

TVA Productions is a top independent studio that just happens to have an awesome directory of media outlets in many different categories. The directory is well-designed and easy to navigate. The only downside is the directory only lists the name and location of each outlet per category, so you’ll still have to find the outlet’s website to continue your research from there.

None of these resources will provide anywhere near the volume or accuracy of information found in commercial media databases like Vocus or Cision. It’s true that you get what you pay for when it comes to media research. If you’re managing media relations for several organizations, consider investing in one of these solutions. If you just need to create a media list for your small business or startup, you can do this for free with a moderate amount of effort, using the resources I’ve provided in this post.

Is there another resource people should know about? Do you have other suggestions for building media lists on the cheap? Please share your thoughts.

(Photo Credit: Magazine stack by bravenewtraveler / Ian MacKenzie)

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.


  1. Jeremy, another good post! I realize you were focusing on free resources; however, I can’t help but point out that BurrellesLuce Media Contacts (online media directory and press release distribution service) is less expensive than either Vocus or Cision. We’re finding as people’s budgets are stretched they need a viable alternative that allows them to do what they need to do but at a lesser cost. DISCLOSURE: I work for BurrellesLuce. 🙂


  2. You may want to have Peter Shankman weigh in on this, but it worth mentioning (my understanding of the contacts). If you are using HARO to build a media list – you should be careful. Peter has said that he only wants people to reach out to these media folks when they ask for a source. And often times the media contact info there is set up just to receive the HARO responses to the specific query. I would check in with the HARO rules before perusing to avoid being black listed from the HARO service, which is well worthwhile.

    You may also want to post your information to http://www.pitchengine.com – free! – and media is known to search it.

  3. This is not a free resource but it is reasonably priced (including $1.99 for 24 hours): The Wooden Horse Magazines Database. It provides contact information, expanded description, reader demographics and editorial calendars for over 2,000 US and Canadian magazines. Disclosure: I own it.

  4. Another great option is to use a service like Media Contacts Pro. They provide all inclusive media lists and databases for US or international use. They are fully customizable and come in Microsoft excel spreadsheet format so you can easily export or manipulate the data. They are an affordable solution for people that need quality media lists.

  5. i am a blogger everyday i browse different types of articles to get lots of new tips while i was browsing,i found ur blog your article is really awesome.Thanks for sharing such nice article here.i also want to share valuable how to build a list tips.

  6. See a very extensive FREE list (over 50,000 media outlets) at our site http://www.prmediasol.com/US_Outlets.htm – including the URLs and addresses. This list is similar to Cision’s or PRNewswire’s Outlet list. You can build a media contact list yourself from accessing the media outlet websites one by one, or If you do not have too much time, you can purchase the actual contacts at http://www.prmediasol.com/media-directory.htm at the lowest price known to me.

    1. Consumer Magazine (over 24,000 Consumer Magazine media contacts can be purchased)
    2. Trade Magazine (over 19,000 trade Magazine media contacts can be purchased)
    3. National Newspaper & Regional Newspaper (over 50,000 newspaper media contacts can be purchased)
    4. Weblog & Online Outlets (over 70,000 webmasters, online media contacts can be purchased)
    5. Radio (over 40,000 radio media contacts can be purchased)
    6. Television (national, regional) (over 23,000 television media contacts can be purchased)
    7. Other

  7. Very helpful. Do you mind if I print out a version of this, with attribution, for 27 students in my Advanced PR class?

6 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Media lists for the small biz | Libretto Communications
  2. How to: Use the Media Effectively | Public Relations Tips
  3. PR 101: Media Lists…what are they? Do I need them? I have to do what?!?!?! « Jess AsPRing
  4. 10 Resources to Build a Free Media List |
  5. 25 Ways to Get Press for Your Business -
  6. How To Boost Your Brick Fundraising Campaign For Free

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.