NUJ's Google News Labs training day

‘You absolutely need journalism on top of it’

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

Hina Pandya at Google News Labs; Matt Salusbury

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

Our host was Google News Lab's Matt Cooke, formerly a radio freelance. Matt described Google News Lab as developed "specifically for journalists" - who apparently tell Google that what they need most is help with research, reporting, distribution via social media. But "you absolutely need journalism on top of it, otherwise it's just nice visuals."

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 that "labelled for use - that absolutely doesn't mean cleared for use... We absolutely don't want to steal from our colleagues." Contact the owner.

On YouTube (a Google product) Matt said: "I appreciate those who think this is just fluff." Many media outlets will now have a YouTube channel with a 30-second video on the front page - we watched the BBC's YouTube channel, noticeably more conversational than their other output. The Economist's YouTube videos are just graphics with a voice over, while Irish broadcaster RTE specialises in 30-second videos that are just five subtitled photos. Short YouTube videos are a way to "advertise your long form."

YouTube have a license to distribute these, but it's the YouTube user who owns the content. You see a lot of "scraping" in which people have just filmed a YouTube video on a screen and claimed it as theirs. While "no tool will stop that," Amnesty International now have a site that helps journalists authenticate "user-generated" videos.

Also worthy of investigation are Google public data explorer - it collates all the statistics from various (named) sources - and Google My Maps (for which you'll need a Google account). This allows you to add your own editorial to a map and import spreadsheets and photos into it. You can use Google Maps in your journalism if you attribute it as "map data Copyright Google".

At Google's 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.

Last modified: 27 Apr 2016 - © 2016 contributors
The Freelance editor is elected by London Freelance Branch and responsibility for content lies solely with the editor of the time
Send comments to the editor: