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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.

How One Reporter is Enhancing Her Journalism with Social Media

Saima Mohsin, an international correspondent for CNN based in Bangkok, Thailand, is using social media platforms to distribute news and information around the world.  From Pakistan to Palestine, Mohsin reports of the unrest in war torn countries and breaking news across Asia using her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.  She does more than just observe and report; she participates.

Here is a look at how one journalist is using social media to report the news.

Real Time Journalism

Mohsin has covered significant news events including the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 plane crash and MH370 disappearance, the attack on Malala Yousafzai and the Karachi terror attacks.  With each of these stories, Mohsin has been able to quickly circulate information about these events on social media without having to wait for the nightly news broadcast.

This new technology has placed more demands on today’s journalists.  They have to work faster and do much more than those who came before them.  For instance, they need to do research, interviews, record video, edit video, and distribute their stories on several different mediums from blogs to social media.  And they need to do it all right now.  The tweet below exhibits how increasingly demanding audiences have become and how accustomed we now are to receiving our news the moment it occurs.

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Behind the Scenes

Journalists use social media to not only share their assigned stories, but also to gather information on developing stories, contact sources and give viewers a behind the scenes look at the subject that they may not be able to share in their network package.  This is demonstrated on Mohsin’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

In 2014, Mohsin arrived in the Philippines as Typhoon Hagiput was making landfall and shared this photo on Facebook.  Mohsin and her team were headed into the storm in Lezgapi as hundreds of thousands were being evacuated.

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Mohsin’s Instagram account is an artful collection of stunning images.  Scrolling through them could be considered a crash course in geography, politics and world affairs.  Below are some clips from Mohsin’s Instagram profile.  Each tell their own captivating story without the need for many words.

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Journalism and Advocacy

The way Mohsin uses social media puts her journalism on a different level than most of her fellow journalists.  In the Twitter post below, Mohsin shares a very graphic image of deceased bodies following a horrific heatwave in Karachi, Pakistan.  Saima goes further by tagging the Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party in the post.  Did she do this to seek help for those affected or to hold someone accountable for their part in this tragedy?

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Her personal outrage at how many people needlessly died during the heatwave led to this op-ed piece where she fiercely calls out the Chief Minister of Sindh for not doing enough to help the people of Karachi.

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Mohsin clearly took this story very personally and used her position as a journalist to advocate for the people of Karachi.  Much of this activism was done through social media and demonstrates the power of this medium.

It is clear from these examples that Saima Mohsin’s journalism is enhanced by her use of social media.  While social media may never replace traditional broadcasting methods, it is sure to continue to be one of the most desired ways to consume the news because it is fast, concise and just as compelling.