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Google apps for your newsroom

Posted: January 7th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Journalism, Projects | 14 Comments »

Google spreadsheetsI like to think that I’m pretty good at recognizing trends. One thing that I’ve been seeing a lot recently in my interactions with the newsroom is that we’re no longer exchanging Excel spreadsheets, Word files, and other binary blobs via email. Instead we’re sending invites to spreadsheets and documents on Google docs, links to data visualization sites like Swivel and ManyEyes, and links to maps created with Google MyMaps.

Using these lightweight webapps has definitely increased productivity on several fronts. While as much as we would love every FOIA request and data source to come in a digital format, we constantly see data projects start with a big old stack of paper. Google spreadsheets has allowed us to parallelize and coordinate data entry in a way that just wasn’t possible before. We can create multiple spreadsheets and have multiple web producers enter data in their copious spare time. I did some initial late night data entry for the KU flight project (Jacob and Christian rocked the data visualization house on that one), but we were able to take advantage of web producers to enter the vast majority of the data.

Sometimes the data entry is manageable enough (or the timeline is tight enough) that the reporter or programer can handle it on their own. In this case, it allows us to quickly turn quick spreadsheet-style data entry in to CSV, our data lingua franca for data exchange. Once we have the data in CSV form we can visualize it with Swivel or play with it in ManyEyes. If all we’re looking for is a tabular listing of the data, we’ve written some tools that make that easy and look good too. On larger projects, CSV is often the first step to importing the data and mapping it to Django objects for further visualization.

Awesome webapps that increase productivity aren’t limited to things that resemble spreadsheets from a distance. A few weeks back we had a reporter use Google’s awesome MyMaps interface to create a map of places to enjoy and avoid while traveling from Lawrence, KS to Miami, FL for the orange bowl. We pasted the KML link in to our Ellington map admin and instantly had an interactive map on our site. A little custom template work completed the project quite quickly.

It all boils down to apps that facilitate collaboration, increase productivity, and foster data flow. Sometimes the best app for the job sits on the desktop (or laptop). Increasingly, I’ve found that those apps live online—accessable anywhere, anytime.


14 Comments on “Google apps for your newsroom”

  1. 1 marketinglane said at 5:22 pm on January 7th, 2008:

    I have also seen this trend in dealing with clients. Emailing Excel spreadsheets wasn’t nearly as effective as sharing them through Google Apps during conference calls. I would imagine that this trend would continue as it makes collaboration easier and allows more eyeballs to contribute.

  2. 2 Marty Alchin said at 7:26 pm on January 7th, 2008:

    How dare you not have told me about this sooner! Swivel looks incredibly useful, and I’ll definitely be spending a lot of time checking it out in the near future. Thanks for the heads up on that an ManyEyes.

  3. 3 stupidgooglewhore said at 10:38 pm on January 7th, 2008:

    Stop being a Google whore. Are you stupid?

  4. 4 EFO Designs said at 12:53 am on January 8th, 2008:

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ll certainly pass this along to my friend that is webmaster for our communities small newspaper.

    Swivel looks very sweet indeed.

    –bryan

  5. 5 mcdave.net » links for 2008-01-09 said at 1:19 am on January 9th, 2008:

    [...] Google apps for your newsroom at Matt Croydon::Postneo (tags: google journalism spreadsheets maps webapps) [...]

  6. 6 EFO Designs said at 2:48 pm on January 10th, 2008:

    I was wondering if you had any resources you could share to get something close to the ‘Big 12 Cost-per-win’ look, without embedding a Swivel or Many-Eyes code block into the page.

    Any tips for the non-Ellington inclined out there?

  7. 7 Greg Palmer » Blog Archive » links for 2008-01-11 said at 7:35 pm on January 10th, 2008:

    [...] Google apps for your newsroom at Matt Croydon::Postneo (tags: journalism productivity webdev) [...]

  8. 8 Dati, collaborazione e visualizzazione « WORK IN PROGRESS said at 6:24 am on January 11th, 2008:

    [...] Dati, collaborazione e visualizzazione Pubblicato su Map Journalism by luiginter su Gennaio 11th, 2008 Le applicazioni web facilitano sempre più la  rappresentazione visuale delle informazioni: per esempio impiegando contemporaneamente strumenti di gestione dei dati come Google spreadsheet (in Google Docs) in condivisione fra più redattori,  e i siti che generano al volo grafici come, Swivel, Many Eyes e, per esempio, le mappe di Google. La tendenza è ben spiegata da Matt Croydon sul suo blog (grazie ad Antonio Cavedoni per la segnalazione).  Questo un semplice grafico creato su Swivel e pubblicato (anche) qui. [...]

  9. 9 Django Mashups :: KML + Google Maps API | Dizzy Dizzy said at 9:59 pm on January 13th, 2008:

    [...] Our ellington install doesn’t have the Maps App that Matt Croydon is using.  Wished it did, but, since it doesn’t, I built one! I think it’ll be debuting with our coverage of Gasparilla. [...]

  10. 10 Modernize your newsroom today » Invisible Inkling said at 12:37 pm on January 14th, 2008:

    [...] Use Google Documents (or any one of many similar tools) to share notes and spreadsheets in your newsroom. This makes it far easier for you to move data between desks and access it from anywhere. [...]

  11. 11 CINCO PASSOS PARA MODERNIZAR UMA REDAÇÃO : André Deak said at 8:48 am on January 15th, 2008:

    [...] 1. Utilize o Google Docs (ou ferramentas similares) para dividir trabalho na redação. É um jeito muito mais fácil de compartilhar documentos entre as mesas e acessar de qualquer parte. [...]

  12. 12   Modernize your newsroom today — Instant Web Meetings.COM - Video Conference, Collaboration, E Learning, Unified Communications said at 11:54 am on January 15th, 2008:

    [...] Use Google Documents (or any one of many similar tools) to share notes and spreadsheets in your newsroom. This makes it far easier for you to move data between desks and access it from anywhere. [...]

  13. 13 January’s most-popular links: newspapers going online-only, going hyperlocal; newsroom staffing, training, and google apps : Joe Think » Online News Blog Archive said at 3:49 am on February 11th, 2008:

    [...] Google apps for your newsroom [...]

  14. 14 CURSO DE JORNALISMO INTERATIVO : André Deak said at 11:13 am on April 29th, 2008:

    [...] 1. Utilize o Google Docs (ou ferramentas similares) para dividir trabalho na redação. É um jeito muito mais fácil de compartilhar documentos entre as mesas e acessar de qualquer parte. [...]