Google My Maps

☀☀☀☀☀ For a digital journalist, mapping tools are essential. Google My Maps is one of the best tools for this type of work — simple to learn, powerful and free. Using Google means almost any location is already located in the app. The only downside to the app is the learning curve, which, for anything more complex than a simple map with pins, takes time to overcome. Google, however, provides tutorials for this. For whenever a journalist needs to show a location or multiple points in an area, this is the quickest and easiest option.  — Chris McCrory

☀☀☀☀ Google My Maps helps first-time mapmakers create basic maps from a simple spreadsheet to share or embed on a web site. It took me 30 minutes to create a map, not 10 as the Google News Lab lesson said. The two-minute video was confusing. The directions didn’t match the interface exactly. The video lesson says no programming is required, but that’s also not quite right, since you have to paste and tweak a few lines of source code. Still, it’s worth a try: good journalistic uses are easy to see. Without a simple “locator map,” many readers could not locate Kyrgyzstan, Vanuatu or other lesser-known countries. News happens there, too. — Eric Newton

Google Scholar

☀☀☀☀☀ Google Scholar does fast searches of scholarly literature. Key words immediately direct the user to journal articles written by experts. Users can also search by author profiles and citations. Searches can be customized by type of literature (article or case law), date, and location, and further refined. Detailed search tutorials can be found through the easy-to-follow Google News Lab lesson, which provides useful information on every aspect of Scholar. Great for journalists looking for fast access to accurate, detailed information from academic experts. — Victoria Grijalva

Photo by Benjamín Núñez González

Reverse Image Search

☀☀☀☀☀ Google image search has long been the go-to choice for anyone in need of a photo. But many are unaware of its other uses, notably the reverse image search, which can tell you the history and origin of a photo. (Journalists need to know a photo’s source to verify the image, and weed out an altered or fake one). Google News Lab and others, such as Interhacktives.com, explain how the tool works. Simply, you drag the image into the search bar. You’ll find the image’s online usage dating back as far as Google. — Cole Feinbloom

☀ The idea of the Google News Lab tool to reverse search images is a good one: taking images you may have saved without context and, with any luck, placing where the image originated from. Unfortunately, the tool didn’t work for me. After searching a logo for a local publication — a logo that is featured on Facebook fan pages, websites and blogs — Google’s search engine thought the image might be from the African Union, which also has a circular logo. A second attempt with a different image also failed. While intriguing, this tool has kinks to work out before it can be depended on. — Kelsey Hess

☀☀☀☀☀ Reverse Image Search: Most everyone is aware you can use Google to search for images, but many do not know that performing a reverse image search is just as easy. Basically, you click on the camera icon in the search bar and then enter a picture to learn more about it. The tool has multiple ways to search images: right clicking an online image, uploading an image URL or uploading a file. This tool easily allows anyone to access additional information about a photo such as where and when else it has been posted online. As demonstrated in the comprehensive Google News Lab Tutorial, this is a great tool for journalists to use as a fact-checker to verify a photo’s origin. — Melissa Szenda

Image by C_osett / Flickr

Google Public Data Explorer

☀☀ Google Public Data Explorer turns “big data” sets into interactive graphics. You can import data from researchers at The World Economic Forum, for example, and easily see what’s happening with global trends. Journalists can unlock the stories in their own data with graphics and charts. You can preview, share, upload and publish their data sets to the Google Public Data site. Graphics are discussed on message boards and in topic groups. This service works best on a computer as it is not optimized for mobile. The downside: this tool was difficult for me to navigate with its busy design. — Scotty Bara

☀☀☀☀☀ Google’s Public Data Explorer is an easy-to-use online database comprised of datasets and metrics from global sources. Users can search for statistics from trusted sources like the U.S. Census Bureau and the World Bank. After searching a phrase such as “infectious disease,” the data explorer will display results that can be narrowed down by location and date. Data can be displayed in either a bar or line graph, map or bubble diagram, which can be animated. This free tool can easily be customized and saved for use in online publications, which makes it ideal for journalists. — Lauren Hornberger

Google Trends

☀☀☀☀☀ Google Trends is a pathway to interesting facts. The tool allows the user to explore topics that are being widely searched for by Google users. For the 2016 World Series, the tool shows popular stories, a moving graph showing searches over time, the most looked-for players and most-asked questions. Journalists can use this information as data elements to show popular reactions to current events in real time. You can see interest spike during a dramatic game. This is an easy-to-use tool with lots of readable information. – Kelsey Hess

☀☀☀Google Trends is “beyond Twitter” as it allows you to view, compare, and refine information people are searching for in both real-time and past years within the same site. This tutorial helped to demystify how as a journalist you can use Trends in a more customizable fashion. The slides helped to show you how to compare trends, groups of terms, language, and location, in about five minutes. Major Bug: The instructional example in step 2 asks you to enter a search term that comes up completely blank and restricts you from practicing the example. — Jamee Lind

☀☀☀☀ Google Trends can tell you not just what people are searching for online, but when they are searching for it, and where they are from. Tutorials on the Google News Lab offer detailed explanations on how to use the tool. The option to refine a trend search by region, city, and metro area make it great for journalists looking to find out more about the interests of local audiences. In addition, this tool can be incorporated into stories to show how events are affecting people in real time. It shouldn’t take more than a half hour to learn to use this tool well. — Carly Henry

 

Google Alerts

☀☀☀☀☀ Need to keep up on specific news, events, people, or anything new appearing on the internet? Google Alerts will keep you in the loop. Just type in whatever you are looking for, and the tool will send you search results as often as you would like, directly to your email or Google Now. It can be used to monitor your brand, or even keep an eye on your competitors. Journalists can stay up-to-date on topics they are reporting on. This web-monitoring tool is free, and you can set up as many alerts on topics tailored perfectly for you. — Bryan Young

☀☀☀☀☀ Google Alerts took me less than two minutes to customize. All you have to do is type in keywords you want to follow. Journalists can use it to stay up to date on whatever people, places or things they are covering. My favorite part was choosing media type. You can specifically ask for video or blogs or web and it will filter all the news down to that media. You can set your region, how often you wish to get alerts and where they should be delivered. It was SUPER simple. In fact, the first alert it gave me was an online article that I instantly read; it was relevant to my topic of interest and just posted that morning. I would never have found this article because it was posted on a website I never visit. — Gregory Walsh

Innovation at the Cronkite School: Ask ‘Why Not?’

This is the third of three blog posts on innovation by Eric Newton, innovation chief of Cronkite News at Arizona State University.

Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron gave a terrific speech last graduation season about the transition from print to the digital age. Among the many quotable quotes: “The best journalism involves discovery. It involves surprise and wonder and excitement – and new knowledge.”

Read more

Google Tools Reviews

Students from the Innovation Tools class and other ASU classes find, test, apply and critique Google News Tools. Here you’ll find their brief reviews of those tools and tutorials they looked at from a journalism point of view. The opinions expressed are the views of the authors alone. But since they are digital natives who want to tell stories, we think that means something. Every generation comes of age with a form of media in ascendance, and it is that generation which ultimately defines and deploys the new media.

Google Trends Interpretations

☀☀☀☀☀ The data visualization features of Google Trends make it easy to see the popularity of word or phrase searches over time. Users get clear, simple graphs. Journalists could use the tool to gauge the level of interest in topics that are in the news. The “forecast” feature predicts the trend of the search term in the future—something that a journalist might care about if they are thinking about future stories, or the lifespan of their current story. With trends, you can see how phrases such as “climate change” have risen and others, such as “global warming,” have fallen. It only takes about 10 minutes to learn. — Alexis Berdine