March 6, 2016

Google Backs Digital Journalism

Google.  A revolutionary idea that turned a noun into a verb by connecting the world through zetabytes of data and information.  The answers to almost everything you ever wanted to know at your fingertips and accessible to billions of people around the globe.  What started as a small tech start-up out of Stanford University in 1997 single-handedly changes the digital landscape.

Now Google is turning its attention to digital journalism.  The billion dollar company will invest €150 Million in the Digital News Initiative in Europe.  This initiative is a partnership between Google and many publishers to help advance electronic journalism by funding new and confident ideas.  It was this collaboration that helped create Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, which is comparable Facebook’s Instant Articles.

Last summer, Google introduced News Lab.  It is an extensive resource where news and media professionals can access tools and programs related to the research and distribution of information.  Some lessons help you set up google alerts while other tools help you determine what topics are trending and popular like in the tweet above. 

There is a popular debate as to whether technology has simplified our lives or just made them more complicated.  Well, Google has undoubtedly streamlined the work of media professionals.  These latest advancements are incredibly valuable to journalists who not only report the news but are responsible for the production of their stories across multiple digital and social media channels.

Google purchased the phenomenon that is YouTube in 2006.  There are more hours of video uploaded to YouTube in one month than was broadcast on ABC, CBS and NBC in 60 years.  And thanks to YouTube, user-generated content has become a major part of reporting on current events.  However, a journalist cannot just type a topic into YouTube’s search bar and then share any video they find.  To remain credible and trustworthy sources, the media must verify the authenticity of any UG video they broadcast.  This video by Storyful explains how they use YouTube and other Google services to mine social media channels for news worthy stories.

Some other tools that can help in this process are the YouTube Data Viewer by Amnesty International’s Citizen’s Evidence Lab and Storyful’s YouTube Newswire.  These vehicles assist journalists in obtaining eyewitness videos and in finding original content using reverse image search to locate earlier versions of the same video.

Another great contribution from Google that significantly altered how a journalist manages their day-to-day workload is Google Maps.  It’s all about location, location, location.  Google Maps is a helpful resource in verifying whether digital content is genuine.  The media uses Google Maps street view to compare landmarks from cities on the other side of the world to landmarks seen in videos sent in by users to establish whether or not they are real.  They can also enter the latitude and longitude of a city to find social media posts from users in that area.  This can help the journalist find sources for a developing story as well as user generated content directly from where the event is taking place.

As the media evolves in a digital and social space, Google continues to step up with the tools journalists need to maintain their accuracy and integrity as truth seekers.