Evernote vs Dropbox: for freelance journalism

Evernote vs Dropbox:

Organising my freelance journalism work flow


I needed to store and find/search easily: recordings, notes, saved web pages, sources and other research.

I needed to store my written notes, ideas and questions, and tags across topics and publications are especially useful.

I already use Wunderlist so something easy to integrate and share to sync my research and notes, with my to do’s and progress, would be ideal.


Evernote – I used to use it 2-3 years ago and stopped. (I got into the bad habit of saving web pages to bookmarks and ideas all over the place – and not doing journalism). I am a hoarder of web pages, videos and anything and everything that gives me a light bulb moment of insight or an idea that I must do at some point in the future (and might not – my ideas list is pretty cluttered at most times, and when I see them, then I get overwhelmed and procrastinate and want to consume shiny new things for new ideas instead – it’s why I like Pinterest, and why I write and draw lots but don’t manage massive projects…!)

Now I’m embarking on bigger pieces I REALLY need a better system. And Evernote seems perfect for journalists.

So today as I was happily rocking to music and uploading ALL articles and scribbles (the typed ones) and crap from disparate – and insightful – sources, I suddenly had a panic.

The whole purpose is to access and ensure these parts are accountable and safe – and I had no idea how secure it was.

Not just from the outside. But for me.  

And not just because I might get hacked – that’s a matter of online security and if there’s a hole there, I only have myself to blame, and I am pretty solid on that – but…. what happens if Evernote disappears? Goes bust? Moves everything from one cloud to another cloud and it all falls to Earth? I mean, anything is possible, right?

This forum thread only exacerbated my fears of these realistic worst case scenarios that people are convinced about. https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/65776-what-happens-to-my-notes-if-evernote-goes-bust/?page=2

All businesses die. Everything dies! And it’s somewhat mirrored my own tendency to give up on systems – why wouldn’t they give up on me?! If I’m about to put my entire freelancing system onto Evernote I don’t want to wake up one day to find a repeat of Megaupload.

I am concerned about where to safely and confidently store all interviews, information and confidential sources – and new ideas – that I would rely on at any point in the future and it could be hugely important for legal reasons and for my own integrity. My own integrity would be down to this choice of software – so, kind of a biggie.

But I remembered that quiet and solid app I use without even noticing. Dropbox. Aren’t they the same? Just one is a bit more hip and millennial than the other?

So I delved into what the internet had to say about this. I found some clarity for myself and I hope it’s useful to you. (Plus I’m a bit of a productivity systems geek, and here’s my outlet.)

Initial picture in my head: Wunderlist = to do’s, checklists and project priorities and progress. Evernote = the actual files, notes, research and creation. And collaboration. Dropbox = shared access and standard for Word and PDF files (whereas a written Evernote file requires a copy and paste).

So, maybe Dropbox is better for writing in progress in a Word doc, while Evernote collates the research from the internet? I’d rather have everything in one place.

And in one place, capacity matters.

Evernote Basic (free) limits your note size to 25 MB and each month gives you 60 MB.

Dropbox Basic (free) doesn’t limit file size and gives you 2 GB free and you can earn up to 16 GB performing various tasks and syncs, but that’s the limit.

I wanted a nice way to think about it clearly (read: I never want to worry about this again, and just want to get on with pitching and creating loads of great stories and other projects with a seamless work flow system that I know is 100% accountable and I know where I can find anything if there’s a query)

Udemy split it quite nicely for me, and for those who like physical, stationery equivalents for their software:

Evernote = “the sticky notes of the modern age” / Dropbox = “the filing cabinet”

Who even has these anymore? Source: Morgue File

Who even has these anymore?

Best of all was Michael Hyatt’s consolidation of all the major pros and cons:

Evernote = storing the written word with easy search and editing. Word, Excel and Powerpoint files can be stored but not transformed/edited inside Evernote.

Dropbox = store software, big files, photos, code etc… everything else

So then, I would use Wunderlist for the checklist, to do’s and project management and schedule, clip research, sort it and write my stuff in Evernote, and put the finished product (or the next stages e.g. video) into Dropbox – for attachments.

I use Wunderlist for specifically actionable tasks; to do’s, priorities, deadlines, schedules and reminders. While Wunderlist does easily clip and save and order anything, I want that app to be as specific and decluttered as possible (not very, most of the time – and that’s the point).



Data security:

Evernote’s Three Laws of Data Protection


Dropbox vs Evernote on security

The Argus & why it annoyed me

Picked up The Argus on Wed, Oct 30, 2013. I know it’s an easy target, but here’s my scoff:

The Argus: News, Sport, Brighton and Hove Albion and Entertainment for Brighton, Hove and Sussex.

= News, Sport, Brighton and Hove Albion and Entertainment for Brighton, Hove and Sussex.

The front page news? The weather.

The storm that wasn’t. Also, green spaces under threat. There’s no story on the front to be continued, just two headlines that don’t say anything newsworthy. Maybe there’s no news today…

… Except, it’s the day before Halloween.

I just walked down the road and found Brighton, the UK’s top arts and culture city (besides London?), is holding Halloween parties, themes and do’s of some sort in every single venue, pub, and anything else. With a bit of active research, I could come up with at least three distinctive local-daily-news stories related to the exciting night ahead, pictures of Brighton’s streets and décor, interviews with venues, hosts, and chuck in a scary local resident. To be lazy, I could also wax lyrical on Breaking Bad via the inevitable proliferation of Breaking Bad themed Halloween parties.

The front page headline is not even a news piece about the weather; it’s the opinion piece about the weather.

An opinion writer – the last of a dying species of opinion writers actually still paid to fill the endangered territory of a local newspaper double spread – has used his space to write that the weather was not worth the writing. Nihilistic and self-defeating dribble about journalism itself that got his opinion onto the front page: “These feelings of unease were made worse by newspapers such as the Express, which delight in doom-laden weather predictions.”

So where is the breaking news, the daily news, the local news? Page 2 is a national story about the Royal Mail where the only connection seems to be the fact there’s a post office in Brighton; well done. Page 3 seems to be a game of how many fish-related puns – haddock-enough? – can fit into one plaice (sorry) in a story about a fish-and-chip owner who retired. A month ago.

Page 4-5 is ‘Your News’. I’m sure this is a much-cherished feature of The Argus but in practice it means the first actual up-to-date news the local newspaper reader comes across is written by residents, not journalists.

And then: The prominent feature about Kickstarter.

In which, three local projects are cited, fair enough; but these projects aren’t the mainstay of the article. Nothing, absolutely nothing, pertains to anything local until at least two thirds of the way into a double page feature in a local newspaper. The first two thirds give the impression that desperate, confused journalists just Googled their way through and cobbled together a quick collection of speculation and figures without any interested, specialist knowledge – or the inclination to interview anyone to obtain some. This is evident from their cited example of the games console Ouya as a ‘notable success’ on Kickstarter but this project has actually been a catastrophe in every sense of the word.

The Argus has a Twitter feed but they didn’t use it, despite Twitter being the prominent social media used to promote Kickstarter projects.But I can think a couple of Brighton projects off the top of my head I have passively seen via my Twitter feed, despite the fact my feed is based in London. (Reason: Brighton is an arts hub. Does The Argus know that?).

I just found three Brighton projects that are worth much more than a squashed mention at the end of the feature, via a 5 second Twitter search (clue: ‘Kickstarter’ + ‘Brighton’): Playing With Fear, Kollektiv’s First Ever Gallery, and CAT SKIN. These three have something unique about them which I could ascertain from just an interested glimpse.

Snippets from my play (1)

These are a couple of snippets that were taken out of the play I am writing “Life, Death and Journalism”.

It’s in the second-third draft stage and needs work.

Jack is a journalist encouraged to resign by his editor after his own existential crisis on the point of journalism, and these are some of his doubts.


“So why are we doing this? Isn’t life more important than the barrage of news and words about news and everyone trying to get their by-line to the story first – where is enjoyment and art for art’s sake and play in all this? No one has time to even appreciate how tough it is to write quality, perfect stories and a badly written story is just as good anyway, all those writers craft in their rooms and for what? There is no stage for the countless hours of practising writing, just more lonely writing, it’s not like the hours spent practising Jimi Hendrix in his bedroom to play the guitar. Music is more enjoyable to listen to than reading harsh news.”


                              It’s just words, endless, unnecessary verbiage

                        Erudite and intellectual articulation of issues

                        That no one has time for

                        I don’t understand why people would consciously choose

                        To leisurely read the handpicked most painful, deliberately provocative,

                        Stories of today’s messy and stupid humanity

                        Crafted into a product and broadcast to masses of people