Here’s why Google built a new search tool for data journalists

Data journalism can deliver some of the most rewarding and valuable stories — but it can also be time-consuming and tricky to fit into a tight newsroom schedule. Vincent Ryan, Teaching Fellow at Google News Lab, explains how Google turned it thoughts to solving the problems

Time is the most valuable resource in the newsroom. Data journalists face the same deadline pressures that reporters have always grappled with.

At the heart of many stories is one piece of data — a simple statistic or a range of metrics hidden within a spreadsheet. It can sometimes be hard to find the most relevant information particularly when working underpressure to tight deadlines.

With feedback from journalists, Google has launched a new tool to help — introducing Dataset Search.

The goal is to help scientists, data journalists, and researchers find the data required for their work or their stories, or simply to satisfy their intellectual curiosity.

Similar to how Google Scholar works, Dataset Search lets you find available datasets from across the web — local publishers and individual authors can choose to take part in sharing their data too.

Google has developed guidelines for dataset providers to describe their information in a way that Google (and other Search engines) can better understand the content of their pages.

Vncent Ryan

The approach is based on an open standard for describing this information (schema.org) and anybody who publishes data can describe their dataset this way.

Google AI, Research Scientist, Natasha Noy, encourages publishers to make their data discoverable. “A search tool like this one is only as good as the metadata that data publishers are willing to provide. We hope to see many of you use the open standards to describe your data, enabling our users to find the data that they are looking for,” she said.

In the deep ocean of data hopefully Dataset Search can chart your way to your next data driven scoop.