Google organised a free workshop on 14 December 2015 in Birmingham focused on how journalists can use technology to improve and complement their stories.
1. Putting ourselves in our audience’s shoes
As journalists we sometimes use words that we think are commonly used by our audience but actually are not.
In addition, one of the biggest difficulties is how to approach a story in a fresh way or a way that is attractive for our readers. Google Trends can give us some clues.
Let’s imagine we are working on a story about the Autumn Statement.
In Google Trends, we can check the most-searched questions.
In this example, we can see that many people don’t know what the Autumn Statement is or what tax credits mean.
As the picture shows, the fourth most common question is “How will the autumn statement affect me?” which could be a different approach for our story.
We can also use Google Trends to look for the number of searches related to one or several terms and filter them by country, time or category.
2. Different data sources in one place
If you are looking for data about one particular field, Google Public Data Explorer is a useful URL to have in our favourites.
From that one website you can find data from organisations including the United Nations, Eurostat and the World Bank.
With some of the data available you can easily create and customise graphs and maps, which can be embedded into a website.
3. Advanced search = better results
You can obtain more precise results in searches using the advanced search commands instead of simply putting more random keywords.
- Excluding content: With the command minus (-) we can search while excluding some results. If we are working, for example, on a story about the impact of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, we can do our search excluding the word ‘economy’ (we can use the command with any word). If we compare the results, they are quite different.
- Definitions: To know the definition of a word, just add the word ‘define’:
- Quotes: We remember a statement, but we are not sure who said it. Google can give us the answer. The only thing we should do is enclose the exact phrase in quotes.
- Specific format and website: We can limit our searches to one website and to one format. To do that you have to use the commands site: with the URL and file: with the format we need (PDF, csv, xls…)
These are only some examples. Here you can find out more options.
4. Verifying pictures and videos
Pictures or videos sent by users should be verified like every other source.
The only thing we have to do is to copy the link or upload the file with the image. The search engine will tell us the websites where the picture is already published.
In the case of videos, the options are more limited. Amnesty International has created the Youtube Data Viewer, a tool to show the hidden data from videos hosted on Youtube.
5. Want to know more?
If you want to discover more, go to Google News Lab website and learn how Google tools can help you in your research, visualizing your stories or analysing engagement.