Google is so much more than a search engine. In addition to software solutions for small business, the company makes interactive tools for today’s data driven journalists. With the precipitous rise in the collection big data comes the need for people who can understand and communicate to the public the significance of that data. In concert with the availability of this data, consumers are ever more hungry for interactive content. Many are even taking a crack at producing content themselves. All of this creates a market for tools that journalists can use to extract data and create digital content. Below are five tools that are useful for researching and presenting information.
From Afrikaans and Albanian to Yoruba and Zulu, Google Translate translates words, phrases, comments, and pieces of writing from one language to any of eighty-six other world languages. Once a phrase has been translated, the user can add the translation to a phrasebook, improve on the translation, or click to hear the spoken phase in the new language. In the case of Japanese, a language that has four alphabets (kanji, hiragana, katakana), the user can change alphabets. The application could also be used in correspondence with international journalists or to translates works that are written in other languages. This might be particularly helpful in deciphering comments that are posted in languages that are unknown to the user.
Google Alerts is a personal research assistant that scours the Internet for breaking content and delivers it directly to the journalist’s mailbox. The journalist enters a term in the search query box and then the application crawls through the Internet, looking for articles that relate to a search phrase. Advanced filters narrow the search. The user can select any combinations of content to be searched from news, blogs, video, discussions, and books. The journalist can set the frequency of result delivery. Content can be sent as soon as it is published or as a daily or weekly digest. For a person covering a particular beat or a series of stories, having relevant content delivered to the inbox saves both time and effort.
For unaffiliated journalists, getting access to research material can be a challenge. The search for subject matter experts can be assisted with Google Scholar. The search engine solves that by bringing the world of print academia, patents, and case-law to the researcher’s inbox. Users can search for academic and legal research by title, subject, or author. Additional filters allow the user to narrow searches by publication date. It is possible to search for research materials published in 13 languages. Records in the list of results can be cited, formatted, and saved in the application’s library. Users can also create subscriptions to up to five university libraries. Records from the library can be easily exported into other bibliography management solutions.
For the January 2012 caucus preceding the 2012 presidential election, AP used Google Fusion Tables to create real-time election results. According to Poynter’s, AP reported that using the Google product gave them faster and more accurate results than they had previously had. Recently Fusion Tables is perhaps one of the most exciting interactive tools for journalists by providing a data visualization platform. Raw data is hosted on the tech company’s cloud storage drive and can be turned into interactive and real-time infographics and data visualization elements. Tables, charts, and graphs can be embedded on websites or emails as hyperlinks. The tables functionality integrates with the power of the company’s popular map application.
Increasingly, digital news operations and even citizen journalists are breaking news stories before text-heavy print newspapers can get the stories printed and distributed. News consumers are less willing to wait for print papers or to wade through text-only articles to get to their news. To remain relevant, today’s journalists need to embrace the emerging and interactive technology tools so that they can research, write, and publish articles and data in a way that attracts readers.
By Kaley Perkins