Making Digital Reporting Tools Great Again!

A comprehensive roundup of new tech on display during our ’Cool Tools’ workshop at SPJ West 2017.

Old Garden Tools | License under Creative Commons/Garry Knight via

Digital journalism engages and empowers more consumers every day thanks to ever-evolving pathways of innovation and the public’s growing draw into social media and multimedia content.

Kim Bui, Robert Hernandez and Victor Hernandez recently put aside their mobile devices and crystal balls to present at the Society of Professional Journalists 2017 Western Regional conference in San Diego.

The following is a list of emerging tech they showcased — each with the power to disrupt, engage, enhance productivity and/or add to your reporting.



The best way to capture, share, and organize screenshots on your Mac.

Storyful Multi-search

As the number of social media platforms continues to rise, journalists find themselves needing to browse a greater number of sites and networks to get the latest info and find content they can use. Multi-search is an open source tool which enables journalists to search multiple social media platforms in one go.

Storyful Multi-search


Save and share highlights, right as you read. Highly works on darn near every app and website.

Highlight the web to share the important parts


If This Then That or IFTTT for short, simplifies your life by automating digital tasks to take your productivity to the next level. Connect Amazon Alexa, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Fitbit, Slack, Skype, and hundreds more. Related: 2015 Medium post from Victor on 21 of the top recommended IFTTT recipes for Journalists

Google Alerts

Many reporters rely on these alerts to get updates on specific beats, follow up stories and competitors, not to mention…ahem…ourselves

YouTube DataViewer

You can use screenshots or Amnesty’s Youtube data viewer to reverse image search images from videos.

Check — Meedan

Verify breaking news online. Made with ✨ by Meedan

Set key questions for each investigation, ensuring consistent and accurate newsgathering amongst your team.

Pablo by Buffer

This tool helps you create beautiful images for social media sharing on every major network, with ideal sizes for Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.

Facebook Signal

Journalists use Signal to surface relevant trends, photos, videos and posts from Facebook and Instagram for use in their storytelling and reporting. This is an easy way to source and curate content from major public events across news, culture, entertainment, sports, and more. Journalists can then embed that curated content online and integrate it into their broadcasts.

If you are a journalist, you can request access to Signal here.


Provides intrepid researchers access to tools for cutting edge digital photo forensics. This is a free service available to everyone. It is intended to provide an introduction to photo forensics and image analysis. The site does not draw conclusions or interpret results; it simply displays raw data.


An online editable map — you can describe any place on Earth. Or just surf the map discovering tons of already marked places. You can literally become an explorer, searching, using filters by countless categories, see photos and descriptions of locales you are investigating.


Banjo technology ingests billions of live public digital signals like emergency services, social media, traffic, weather, and many other data sources to alert newsrooms with immediate insight into breaking events happening worldwide. Currently over 1,000 media organizations are powered by Banjo to be able to make faster, smarter decisions and break the story before the competition.

Heavy Police Presence at Tense Protest in Copenhagen, Denmark


This tool has done wonders for my productivity. Bills itself as a space for your thoughts, ideas, and ongoing tasks. A Google Chrome plug-in that creates a tab in your browser accompanying you throughout your day. Based on three simple design ideas: 1) works across your devices 2) repetitive exposure 3) deliberate limitations.

Your to-do lists will never look or feel the same again


Recently released social media-friendly video editing app from Apple for iOS, Clips allows users to combine videos, images and music into one seamless video ready to be shared not only via the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but also via iMessage too.


Nifty little mobile app for Android from Code for South Africa, aimed at guiding trainee journalists through critical newsgathering process. Asks a series of questions during reporting assignment to ensure important information is being acquired. Can also be a useful tool for citizen journalists or freelancers.

Pocket Reporter from Code for South Africa is available for Google Android

Over and Adobe Post
With “Over” you can add beautiful text to your photos, simply choose from 25 fonts available, and add captions, quotes, more… you can then resize, align and position your text, when finished you can quickly publish your creation on your social networks.

Over app for iOS

Similarly, Adobe Post is a free online and mobile graphic design app. Great for producing compelling text-overlay-on-image graphics for social media.

Adobe Post app


Using a smart detection algorithm this app automagically creates GIF moments using existing media from your camera roll. The power is in the control settings — filters, stickers, speed, text, effects. Can share them on social, iMessage, embed on your site.

TFW your kid beats you like a drum with the TV remote

Twitter Audit

Curious about how many of your Twitter followers are real? Gets way more interesting when start to examine other accounts on Twitter. This service takes a random sample of 5000 Twitter followers and calculates a score for each follower. This score is based on number of tweets, date of the last tweet, and ratio of followers to friends.


This next one has little to do with journalism and everything to do with productivity and keeping on track with your work. Nope is a free Chrome plug-in that when activated, a robo call is placed to your phone, thus allowing you to shutdown distracting coworkers — usually standing between you and that looming deadline!

Because we all need help limiting office distractions
Unique tool that finds you shorter synonyms so you can tweet more. Also terrific for writing headlines and labels for graphics. is a single-serving site that provides shorter synonyms for long words

This by Tinrocket

Let your photos speak for themselves. Smart resource for adding annotation inside mobile content experiences. Tell the whole story by adding valuable pointers, labels, descriptions and commentary to images.

Image with relevant captions produced on iPhone in under two minutes



With an Insta360 camera, users can take 360-degree photos and videos in high definition, and live-stream their experiences directly onto Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social platforms. When viewed in a VR headset, Insta360 experiences can transport people into places and moments they’ve never before imagined.


What truly sets ThingLink apart is the diverse range of rich media you can easily layer on top of your content. Web link. Text. Video. Image. Audio. Social media. And now VR content.

Annotating 360° images is intuitive with ThingLink’s editor


With Facebook 360, publishers can showcase their most compelling stories in a new and immersive way, bringing the viewer inside a different world through 360 photos and videos. To create 360 videos, a special set of cameras is used to record all 360 degrees of a scene simultaneously. This means that when the video is playing on Facebook, viewers can choose what angle they want to see it from. On the web, this is done by dragging around the video with your cursor. On mobile devices, viewers can drag with their finger — or even just turn their device.

360 video is currently viewable on the web and on Android and iOS devices.

Periscope 360

Live 360 video on Periscope allows a broadcaster to go live and share their entire surrounding environment, making the broadcast as immersive as possible for viewers.

In 360 broadcasts, viewers are able to look anywhere while also having the broadcaster present to anchor the broadcast


An handpicked list of insanely awesome tools and resources to help you build your digital story. Super helpful resource list — broken down in rich multimedia format, with a subscriber list feature to keep you in the loop with adds and updates.

DigitalStory.Tools is a directory of tools and resources to help you build your digital stories.

VR Tipsheet

VR Journalism Tipsheet: a collection of tips, links and resources to help you better navigate through the emerging world of virtual reality and journalism.

VR Journalism with @webjournalist

Tell us what we missed! Leave your recent journey into new tools in the comments section and fill us in on other interesting pieces of innovation you’re excited about.