Google has become a living, breathing part of our lives. At True North Custom, it’s a resource we use every day as part of our research process. A recent training session by Samaruddin Stewart of Google News Lab helps us dive deeper into research, improve productivity, and connect with each other and the world.
When the opportunity arose to brush up on Google skills with the help of a passionate teacher and consummate journalist, it was a chance True North Custom couldn’t pass up.
A Golden Opportunity
Earlier this year, a member of our editorial team attended a training session by Samaruddin Stewart and approached him about coming to True North Custom to train the company. Samaruddin is a journalist and researcher who was one of the first trainers recruited for a new initiative started by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and Google News Labs. He is a former John S. Knight Journalism Fellow, the US Department of State’s 189th Franklin Fellow, and the co-founder of the Verified Pixel project. His background includes training, and giving back to the journalistic community is one of his professional passions.
As part of the SPJ-Google News Lab training group, Samaruddin tours the country, stopping into newsrooms, media outlets, and editorial pits to teach. His presentations help writers, editors, researchers, and strategists make the most of Google News Lab Tools. Thanks to a grant from the Google News Lab, SPJ pays the travel expenses for the trainer to do the trainings at your newsroom or organization.
More than 700 professionals in 14 states have received the training since the program began in 2015.
“From gathering info to processing it, publishing it, and measuring its impact, there is now more information available about each step in the journalistic process than ever before,” Samaruddin says. “The most effective content creators are the ones who try to keep abreast of all the ways technology can assist in each step of the process.”
Tools Dig Deeper into Online Data
On June 21, Samaruddin spoke to a packed crowd at True North Custom. His lesson was about how to make the most of Google News Lab Tools. Program highlights included training on:
This set of tools helps narrow search results. From searching only in a specific domain or site to eliminating unhelpful results, these tips help put the information writers and researchers need at their fingertips.
Image integrity is essential in all publishing. Using this tool allows True North Custom to verify image sources, check copyright data, and find the perfect shot for a layout at lightning speed.
Digging into the details that make health care, finance, and marketing tick is par for the course at True North Custom. Samaruddin showed attendees how to use this tool to find the latest research papers and academic documents to inform their work.
Public Data Explorer
Seeing data in customizable graphs and charts brings it to life. This tool pulls from dozens of reputable online sources for information that is easy to understand and export.
Up-to-the minute information about the stories and topics that are capturing the world’s attention is the heart of Google Trends. This tool’s interactive search function can help us focus in on topics that trend, see how specific terms fare in different regions of the country, and understand how interest in them changes over time.
Google Consumer Surveys is a paid service that allows users to analyze information from online survey takers. Users can also create questionnaires to gather data.
“News and writing is an industry in transition,” Samaruddin says. “I have a lot of optimism about the direction it’s going. People will always want information. Consumption methods and mediums will change. As long as there are ways to adapt like using Google tools, I think there’s a lot of positive momentum to come.”
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