Google It and You Will Know…
I remember it was in 2004, at that time, in mainland China, we still can use Google.com. It was my first time to use Google Earth to explore the world via 3-D technological satellite positioning. We talked that in my friends circle, and we all felt that is so neat! That’s all my experience in Google tools.
After I went to college, I was really interested about visual communication and visual journalism. The visual here is not visualization of video. It was more like a graphic design journalism, or some people say “information visualization”, or “data journalism”. This method of news can increase the interaction of users, and learn from the news depending on their own explore. Let’s just call it interactive journalism. This kind of news could fresh your reading experience from visual and interactive parts, and could add more interesting elements in the news. Google Fusion can utilize data and map to form a different colors’ intensity maps and tell the stories. The leader of interactive journalism is The Guardian.
The Guardian set up a data journalists group in 2006. According to the group’s published information, they mainly work on three kinds of interactive journalisms: “Data Map”, “Timeline” and “Interactive graphic design”. Among them, Google Map and Google Earth played an important roles to achieve these news’ production.
A famous example is The Guardian used Google Map and Google Fusion to make a interactive map about London riots that happened in Sep. 6, 2011.
The red spots means the poor life level residents, and the white with black spots means the riot’s locations. It can clearly see that the riots happened places matched poor communities’ location. Thus this interactive map had the evidence to prove why these riots happened, and what cause them happened.
Also, the faculty of The Guardian Simon Roger used the free tool of Google — Fusion to make a dot map to show the total number of casualty of the Iraq War in 2010, and this got a huge success and reputation in media industry.
In 2013, interactive journalism in China have a new start. A tragedy tube bomb happened because of a construction accident in Huangdao district, Qingdao, Shandong Province. The explosion caused 62 people died, and 136 people got injury. Caixin — a Chinese business journalism website used interactive journalism to tell the story: they use satellite map and dots and different colors to show where the explosion happened, and if the reader press the dots, a virtual picture will come out and show what happened in that spot and how much the explosion caused.
These visualization data journalism do not need too much words to illustrate what happened, and sometimes that would make the context more complicated. Also, they let data and map as well as virtual pictures to tell the story. This way can avoid fake information and get more trusts.
Thus, Google’s free software tools does offered a lot to the journalists that let them to try a more scientific and clear method to tell a unique story via visual and interaction.
Now I’d love to pick Google Public Data Explorer and Google Trends to explore more. Google Data is a powerful tool to get authority data. In journalism, using data to tell the story can effectively avoid fake information and can clearly reflect the trends and the situations.
Google as the biggest searching engine in the global world gets the most searching data. Google uses a code form named MapReduce to deal with URL searching results and collects them as data. Google Trends smartly uses the big data and graphics to deal with trends graphic to tell the story. You can search specific years, or names or other information to get different trends graphics. Also, the “compare” can do same information but different countries or persons’ comparisons. “Compare” as a method also can tell stories from serious, accurate and clear angles.
Combine with all these Google tools, an interactive news could achieve. I want to use them to tell a story about American Gun criminal events happened in recently 50 years. I can use Google Search and Google Data to search gun events’ information, like which year and which date happened, victim situations, which states, criminal situations. Then, after I get information, I will use Google map or Google Earth from Visual part to create an events’ map. Plus, I will use Google Fusion to deal with the map, using different colors to represent different situations: red means casualty up to 100, yellow means up to 50, blue means 30, green means 10… Finally, I can use Google Trends to compare U.S. with other countries in the same 50 years, and the gun events happened in recently 50 years compare with 50 year time frames in U.S.. Data and graphics can tell the trends and the stories by themselves.
And for News 7, I’d love to use visual map to tell a Act 46 school combination story. State government decided to unify local state schools depended on the location and the sources of education. But the government also allow the schools to decide themselves how would they like to combine first. During in this process, some difficulties and problems came across because each school has it own finance, education, admission conditions. I can use Google tools, especially map, fusion, data to reflect in Caledonia county, local schools’ geographic features, students’ numbers, application numbers, and education programs. All information in a visual interactive map. The readers can clearly see the combine advantages and disadvantages in the map, and this will be better for them and or the School Boards to make a wiser decision.
the production of interactive journalism is a complicated process. How to gain effective and accurate data, how to research and collect information and make a record, how to design and tell the story? They are the hard and time consuming parts. Once journalists get these data and ideas, they can use Google tools to achieve the visual story telling. Google offers the stage and let the journalists play with their data and visual on it.