Google Launches Portal to Aid Journalists

Google's new portal, News Lab, will connect journalists to more data and digital tools, including written and video tutorials, to aid in their reporting.

Google News Lab

Google has launched a new portal dubbed News Lab that seeks to connect journalists with tools, programs and data to aid in their reporting.

In a blog post Monday, the director of the new site, Steve Grove, described News Lab as an effort to empower better journalism through the innovative use of new digital technologies and services. Under the effort, Google will collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs from around the world to shape the media of the future, Grove said.

Services such as Google Maps, YouTube, Fusion Tables and Earth already provide journalists with a rich set of resources for use in their reporting. With News Lab, Google is making available new tutorials on how to take advantage of such tools in the context of a newsroom, he said. Google will provide written and video tutorials that showcase best practices in the use of these tools from newsrooms around the United States and the world. "As Google develops new products that help journalists, we'll update these resources regularly," Grove said.

Grove pointed to an update to Google Trends that the company announced last week as an example of the kind of data resources that it hopes to make available to journalists through News Lab. With the update, Google has basically begun delivering minute-by-minute, real-time data from Google Search on stories that are trending on news or that people are searching for. The idea is to give reporters and others a way to track topics of interest at any given moment during the day and to determine where exactly that interest might be peaking.

With last week's update to Trends, Google has begun including data from YouTube and Google News as well when providing users with information on stories and topics that might be trending around the world. The new Google Trends gives journalists access to deeper, broader real-time data and reflects feedback collected from data journalists around the world, Grove noted.

Google has also begun working with businesses to find ways to empower new media ventures. The goal is to accelerate startup activity in the media marketplace, he said. As examples of what the company is thinking about, Grove pointed to Matter, a San Francisco firm that invests in early-stage media startups, and Hacks/Hackers, a group that is trying to bring together journalists and software developers.

Google will also hold summits in collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting that will focus on how new tools such as drones and online databases can help journalists investigate stories.

Citizen journalism is another area of focus for News Lab. "Now that mobile technology allows anyone to be a reporter, we want to do our part to ensure that user-generated news content is a positive and game-changing force in media," Grove said. The goal is to enable better use of eyewitness media in news reporting, he said. As an example, he pointed to a recently launched, Google-supported initiative called First Draft that will work to develop standards around the use of content sourced from eyewitnesses or sourced from social media sources.

The News Lab is global in scope. Google has placed teams in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany and France in its initial phase.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.