Teamwork. Training. Trends — Google News Lab and the UK election.
Earlier this month, more than 32 million citizens in the United Kingdom voted in the “snap” general election called by Prime Minister Theresa May. Over the past three months, we’ve launched a series of collaborations and initiatives to help journalists cover this important story in UK politics.
At the Google News Lab, we look to empower journalists with technology to better cover the moments that matter most. Our efforts to do this in the UK elections reflected the importance of three key themes: teamwork, training, and trends.
Ahead of the election, Facebook and the Google News Lab supported First Draft and Full Fact as they worked with major newsrooms to address rumours and misinformation spreading online during the UK general election. First Draft is a coalition of organizations dedicated to improving skills and standards in the reporting and sharing of information that emerges online. Full Fact is an independent fact-checking NGO based in and focused on the UK.
A team of expert analysts composed 33 daily newsletters — each sent to news outlets and individual journalists to help flag election related trends and disputed content.
The analysts covered all of the political debates, rallies and speeches — and pivoted to debunk false stories emerging online following the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.
Claire Wardle, the Strategy and Research Director of the First Draft Coalition, expressed the importance of this work to journalism:
To date, fact-checking and verification have been seen as distinct journalistic skills. Undertaking a forensic analysis of a manipulated video purporting to show migrants crossing a closed border is considered a different journalistic skill to fact-checking a politician’s claims about the number of migrants who have entered the country. But from the audience’s point of view, they simply want to know what is true and what is not.
Elsewhere, a Pop-Up Newsroom was launched to turn polling day into a realtime training opportunity for journalists. The First Draft Partners training event at City University in London brought together 30 journalism students from 5 UK universities to verify stories. Over the course of the day, their work was picked up by outlets like the BBC and AP.
Throughout the day, students were given expert training from Dig Deeper Media and Meedan, who used Design Thinking practices & real-time data to find new editorial solutions for social monitoring.
One of the participating student mentioned why this approach was helpful to their development: “There are so many tools you can use to utilise information on social media. It was incredibly useful learning how to use these tools and actually put them to use in a real life newsroom setting.”
We will share learnings from the event in public research documents currently being prepared by the participating organisations.
We worked with ITV News to provide an on-air presence for Google Trends, surfacing the latest anonymized sets of search data on therelevant issues and political parties. Over 1.8m tuned in to the ITV News coverage, where our data visualisations were used in broadcast segments throughout the night. (We found that interest in the DUP rocketed!) Meanwhile, our Trends featured in articles including the MailOnline, Independent, Guardian and on-TV integrations on Sky News and BBC News.
Throughout the short election campaign we partnered with publishers in a number of ways — through teamwork, training and trends. You can find much more on the other ways we’re collaborating around the world to help fuel original, accurate reporting at g.co/newslab.