Longer online version: print version here
Update - videos of the Google News Lab training day are now online: see below.

NUJ's Google News Labs training day

‘You absolutely need journalism on top of it’

Hina Pandya at Google News Labs; Matt Salusbury

LFB's Hina Pandya introduces the Google News Labs training day, which she instigated

WELL OVER a hundred NUJ freelance journalists attended - for free - the Google News Lab training event in March at their Central London headquarters. Many had come from a long way out of London. A training day in Google's tools of journalists was the idea of LFB's own Hina Pandya, who opened the event. She noted that the training day had been a year in the making", with her negotiating with Google on behalf of the NUJ's Freelance Industrial Council.

Our host was Google News Lab's Matt Cooke, previously of BBC radio, and formerly a part-time radio freelance. Although what was demonstrated on the day was overwhelming Google tools, Matt emphasised that it’s "not just Google tools," he mentioned others that are available. The Google News Lab stuff is all online via g.co/newslab .

Matt described Google News Lab as developed "specifically for journalists". Journos apparently tell Google that what they need most is help with research, reporting, distribution via social media. There's also "engagement analytics" (who and how many people are looking at your stuff.) But "you absolutely need journalism on top of it, otherwise it's just nice visuals."

We were taken through some of the tweaks you can do to Google advanced search. Entering a combination of "site:" followed by a domain name followed by "file:pdf" or "file.csv" tends to yield those FOIA quietly sneaked out buried in pdfs or spreadsheets (.csv being a spreadsheet file format.)

NUJ freelances attending Google News Labs; Matt Salusbury

Frantic note-taking and live-Tweeting activity among the over one hundred NUJ freelances who attended

Google image search's "search tools" include a usage rights filter, but Matt warned that "it's not a silver bullet… still look at that image and see exactly how it’s labelled" regarding usage rights. LFB's Phil Sutcliffe reminded attendees of the Google image search category "labelled for use - that absolutely doesn't mean cleared for use… We absolutely don't want to steal from our colleagues." Contact the owner if you're unsure.

A Hamburg newsroom was sent by a helpful member of the public photos of post-Scottish referendum riots kicking off in Glasgow. But they were able to quickly verify via a reverse image search on Google (dropping an image into the Google image search bar) that it was from the 2011 riots in London. Matt advises, "Readers know about this stuff." There’s a big concerted effort by people like of people like Storyful trying to debunk images.

And see here for how an NUJ freelance photographer used reverse Google image search to track down copyright thieves.

Also worth a look is Google public data explorer collates all the statistics from various (named) sources.

Google News Lab's Matt Cooke; Matt Salusbury

Google News Lab's Matt Cooke demonstrates tools for journalists

When we came to YouTube (a Google product,) Matt said, "I appreciate those who think this is just fluff." A third of searches on YouTube are now news related, and 40 per cent of YouTube is now on mobiles. Many media outlets will now have a YouTube channel with a 30-second video on the front page - we watched the one from the BBC's YouTube channel, noticeably shorter and more conversational than their other output.

Nor does your YouTube news clip have to be video, a slideshow of photographs with you talking is fine. The Economist's YouTube videos are just graphics with a voice over, while RTE specialised in 30-second videos that are just five subtitled photos. Short YouTube vidoes are a way to "advertise your long form." It's not all "click this and read my full article". Some news outlets like Newsy have libraries of long form YouTube videos.

YouTube have a license to distribute, but it's the YouTube user who owns the content. You see a lot of "skimming" or "scraping" in which people have just filmed a YouTube video on a screen and claimed its theirs. While "no tool will stop that," Amnesty International now have a site that helps journalists authenticate "user-generated" videos. YouTube's help centre has a "legal safety and copyright" guide. And "there are other providers", Matt reminded us.

We then took a tour of some mind-bending online 360-degreeYouTube videos, in which viewers can move the camera angle around, a bit like Google Street View. The field is for the moment so new that journalists are still experimenting with what 360 video's applications (if any) still are. One example we saw is 360 video of the count at the Iowa Caucus- fairly dull in 2D, but being able to move around the shot as it happens makes it mildly more interesting. It's all at #youtube360 .

Webpage on YouTube usage rights; Matt Salusbury

Just because it's online, doesn't mean its free! There was attention on usage rights on YouTube and Google on the day.

Geomedialab are the "experts on storytelling with google maps". Google My Maps (for which you'll need a Google account) allows you to add your own editorial to a map and import spreadsheets and your own photos into it. An example is CTV News's interactive map of the flightpath of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 prior to its shootdown - readers can click at various points of the map and see text and photos.

You can use Google Maps in your published online journalism (and in print) as long as you attribute it as "map data Copyright 2016 Google", or "DigitalGlobe copyright - Google Earth via DigitalGlobe" For its satellite images. If you create a map, you can decide whether or not to let other people to imbed it on their websites or social media accounts.

There's also the First Draft coalition, which is navigating how to verify "eyewitness media" and also working out some of the best practice on the ethics of usage of this user generated content, "how journalists and others should behave" when handling this sort of content.

A Google Guest pass; Matt Salusbury

A Google Guest pass to Google News Labs somewhere in Central London

Inside Google

The Google UK sign in reception was the smallest nameplate of any corporate HQ I've ever seen - just visible once you'd gone through the doors. Google were very keen we didn't give out the address to their central London headquarters, although it had just been read out on The News Quiz in a satirical context, as their tax affairs had been in the news again. At their request there was "no photography" anywhere else in the building, so you'll have to take my word for it that there was a "Google toilets" sign.

  • Videos from the Google News Labs training day are now on the NUJ website on its members-only area. You'll need your NUJ membership number and password to enter. Instructions on the page tell you what to do if you've forgotten your password.
  • There are similar events for NUJ freelances, one planned for Manchester and one to be run by NUJ Training Wales - watch this space. There's now #NUJSkillsDayon Twitter for NUJ training events for freelances.
Last modified: 12 Apr 2016 - © 2016 contributors
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