A look into the Google News Lab

I personally had no idea the surplus of tools Google had that could greatly benefit journalists, so for me this exercise was eye opening in a lot of ways, and I liked how the tour of each tool guides you through the operation, with video tutorial screen grabs.

So the first tool to evaluate I checked out the Google Crisis Map. It’s a tool designed for reporters to locate crisis, and crisis related data. It gives you accurate information to report to your viewers and get confirmed as fast as possible. It also has satellite imaging of disaster sites, and different layers you can check and uncheck on maps that will show or hide certain details.

This is the map with “Precipitation” checked, you can see where there is heavy rain to watch for
When you uncheck Precipitation, the green over the heavy rain areas disappears.

Here’s a couple of maps with different things checked to signify different watch zones

This map shows the cloud layout over the U.S.
This shows a bunch of different stuff goin’ on in the U.S.

I find this highly beneficial for a World News aspect especially and making it a reality to viewers — satellite images help to illustrate disaster and using Google Crisis Map, you can take screen grabs of your crisis map and embed it onto a website, which I think is super innovative.

You can also turn alerts on, to customize crisis that you want to be notified of.

The next tool I looked into was Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a tool designed to keep journalists up-to-date on certain topics, and gives them the ability to enter keywords, and customize what kind of news they get, from what source, how often you get it, and where it is being sent to. I think that this is an awesome tool that I am going to start utilizing in the future, knowing if I was covering, for example, Bernie Sanders through his run for the Democratic candidate, I could type “Bernie Sanders” in as a keyword and customize how I want news about Bernie Sanders to be delivered to me.

It also gives you the ability to get alerts about yourself, which is a great way to see how your stories are doing and if they’re getting hits, just by putting yourself and your affiliation into the search for Alerts.

The third tool I tried out was Google Trends which is a good tool for journalists to understand what is important in current time, what needs to be reported, and what is marketable.

It also could be used to start out with story ideas, based on what people are looking up, what’s trending, and beyond.

A couple featured stories that are trending right now, I looked into the Democratic Primaries…

This is just an example of some of the different charts generated on different topics regarding a huge topic. Each chart in itself could potentially be a story idea. Looking at the bigger picture, these charts are also convenient to embed into stories for a visual depiction of what they’re writing about.

The last tool I looked into was Google Translate. This tool is helpful in translating speeches or webpages in different languages as well as helping journalists communicate with a language barrier involved. I thought that there would be something more to this, the benefits of Translate are there — but quite obvious.

You also have the option to translate back and forth between a variety of languages (English to Spanish… or French to English for example).