Google’s New Suite of Tools for Journalists

by February 1, 2021
Credit: Pixabay user Shaun_F/268

I’m wary of large companies, especially tech ones that seem to be giving things away. Particularly for journalists. There’s the potential for leaking intentions, plans, and information to players that have never been loath to vacuum up information for their own use. That said, you don’t want to dismiss a gift horse, even one you’ve looked in the mouth. A new gift that can be great for data journalism on business topics is the new free tools suite that Google has made available for journalists.

Journalist Studio is a collection of new tools that, like many older ones, can provide good utility for reporters. But unlike, say, a Google Earth, Scholar, Maps, Crisis Map, or Translate, this new set is purportedly aimed directly at working journalists.

Honestly, many of these will be useful to people who aren’t journalists. And not all reporters, especially those not working with data as much, may be impressed. But for a good number of us, these are a great addition to the toolkit:

  • Common Knowledge Project: Create a chart out of many public data sources immediately available. A simple example: type in a U.S. city name and get the demographic breakdowns. Data Commons: An open knowledge repository lets you examine pull together information on entities across multiple datasets without having to clean the data. (For those who haven’t had to clean data, be glad. It’s a pain-in-the-rear painstaking and detailed-oriented business.)
  • Dataset Search: A search engine for datasets lets you find places among “thousands of repositories across the Web” where you might locate useful information.
  • Fact Check Exporer: Pulling information from such sources as Snopes.com and USA Today, FactCheck.org, and the Washington Post, you type in an item and you learn who has done factchecks.
  • Data GIF Maker: This one has the least descriptive information, and is maybe the least interesting to my eye, given what’s available through the likes of Datawrapper.de and Tableau Public. But you can take info and compare it in rectangles, circles, and racetrack S-graphs.
  • Pinpoint: Pinpoint may present the combination of least frequently needed but most potential benefit. You can upload thousands of documents of any kind—forms, scans of handwritten notes, images, e-mail archives, PDFs, and others—and do searches across them all. You can then find common points in people, locations, organizations, and other keywords and pull them together. The service even lets you upload audio files, transcribe them to text, and include the results.
  • Project Shield: This is a free and unlimited service to help journalistic organizations protect themselves from DDOS attacks intended to take websites down.

All an interesting mix and worth checking out.