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Google Floats News Lab for Journalists, Eyes Wider Citizen-Reporting Now

When Google News was introduced more than a decade ago, it was a field day for many online websites but as it grew into a mammoth source of news, even Drudge Report was annoyed at the competition from an unknown source.

Now that news comprises an important source of information throughout the world wielding enormous power in the governments and leads to more informed decision-making by leaders and authorities all over the world, Google is pondering on how to create news, distribute it and monitor its consumption.

Overriding the traditional set up, Google is essentially offering all writers exposure to the skills of journalism to make the already competitive field to more competition with citizen reporting now.

Close on the heels of refurbishing its aged Google Trends with hourly updates now, the next on Google’s platter was News Lab, a new effort to bring technology and media on a common platform, it said.

“Our mission is to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to help build the future of media,” wrote Steve Grove, Director, News Lab. Envisaging three ways — Providing new Google tools to journalists, providing helpful Google data sets in the hands of journalists and through programs designed to build on some of the biggest opportunities that exist in the media industry today — Google has sent out an open invitation to all media houses and journalists.

Tools for better reporting

From Maps to YouTube to Fusion Tables to Earth to Search, Google said it is offering many tools that newsrooms can use in their reporting and storytelling. To enable the journalists use these tools, it has offered access to tutorials on these products created specifically for newsrooms, at g.co/newslab.

“We’ll post short written and video tutorials and case studies that highlight best practices from top newsrooms around the world,” said Gove in his blog post. He promised the journalists fraternity that Google would update these resources regularly and announce them on Twitter and Google+, and by subscribing to its YouTube channel.

Data for in-depth reporting

Citing enormous data that is available for journalists now that was never dreamt of a decade ago, Google said it would offer data throuhg its unique window that was announced last week — Google Trends platform. The new Google Trends provides journalists with deeper, broader, and real-time data, and incorporates feedback we collected from newsrooms and data journalists around the world.

“We’re also helping newsrooms around the world tell stories using data, with a daily feed of curated Google Trends based on the headlines of the day, and through partnerships with newsrooms on specific data experiments,” he said.

Programs on media’s future

Google said it is working with partners to build a series of programs focused on imagining the future of news and information, as well as on empowering new voices in media. First of all, it is focusing on increasing the number of media startups in the marketplace.

Google has partnered with Matter, a media accelerator in San Francisco, and Hacks/Hackers, a global community group for developers and journalists, to provide financial support and mentorship from Google engineers that will help these organizations expand their impact to more startups around the world.

“We’re also holding a series of TechRaking summits with the Center for Investigative Reporting: hackathons focused on developing new investigative tools such as drones, online databases, and more,” it said.

Another area Google said it would focus is citizen reporting. Citing mobile technology that allows anyone to be a reporter, Google said the user-generated news content is a positive and game-changing force in media.

“We’re doing that with three projects—First Draft, the WITNESS Media Lab, and the YouTube Newswire — each of which aims to make YouTube and other open platforms more useful places for first-hand news content from citizen reporters around the world.”

The News Lab is a global effort, with teams in the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany to start, besides providing the training from the research arm of Google — Digital News Initiative in Europe.

“We believe we can create a more informed world if technologists and journalists work together, and we’re excited to be part of the effort,” said Steve Grove, Director of News Lab.

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