Google organized a free workshop on 14 December 2015 in Birmingham focused on how journalists can use technology to improve and complement their stories.
This is a summary of some tips Google News Lab’s Matt Cooke gave during the event.
You can read more about the event using the hashtag #DNRoadShow.
1. Putting ourselves in our audience’s shoes
As Journalists, we sometimes use words that we think are common for our audience but they are not. In addition, one of the biggest difficulties is how to approach a story in a fresh way or a way that is attractive for our readers. Google Trends can give us some clues.
Let’s imagine we are working in a story about the Autumn Statement. In Google Trends, we can check the most-searched questions.
In this example, we can see that many people don’t know what the autumn statement is or what tax credits mean.
As the picture shows, the fourth most common question is “how will the autumn statement affect me?, which could be a different approach for our story.
We can also use Google Trends to look for the number of searches related to one or several terms and filter them by country, time or category.
2. Different data sources in one place
If we are looking for data about one particular field, Google Public Data Explorer is a useful URL to have in our favorites.
In only one website, we can find data from different organizations like the United Nations, Eurostat or the World Bank.
With some of the data available, we can easily create and customize graphs and maps, which can be embedded into a website.
3. Advanced search = better results
We can obtain more precise results in the searches using the advanced search commands instead of simply putting some random keywords. These are only some examples. Here you can find out more.
- Excluding content: With the command minus (-) we can search excluding an area. If we are working for example in a story about the impact of Rio de Janeiro Olympics, we can do our search excluding the word economy. If we compare the results, they are quite different. We can use the command with any word.
- Definitions: To know the definition of a word, just add the word define behind
- Quotes: We remember a statement, but we are not sure who said it. Google can give us the answer. The only thing we should do is enclosing the exact phrase in quotes.
- Specific format and website: We can limit our searches to one website and to one format. To do it, we have to use the commands site: with the URL and file: with the format we need (PDF, csv, xls…)
4. Verifying pictures and videos
Pictures or videos sent by users should be verified like every other source. For pictures, we can use a technique called reverse search with Google Images or Tiny Eye.
The only thing we have to do is to copy the link or upload the file with the image. The search engine will tell us the websites where the picture is already published.
Another tip to check if a picture or a video is located in the place it says is with Google Street View or Google Earth. This tutorial explains how.
In the case of videos, the options are more limited. Amnesty International has created the Youtube Data Viewer, a tool to show the hidden data from videos hosted on Youtube.
5. Fancy to know more?
If you want to discover more, go to Google News Lab website and learn how Google tools can help you in your research, visualizing your stories or analysing the engagement.