I was having a browse through Paul Bradshaw’s excellent Online Journalism blog when I stumbled across their Storify round up of the News:Rewired panel from December last year. Essentially, different digital journalists round up their views and discuss the best tools and methods for enhancing news stories.
As a result of this, I made a list of some of the digital tools I believe are a fantastic bonus for up and coming journalists, particularly those who are interested in technology too. The news:rewired conference also discussed what tools could be used to enhance the typical news story into something more digital and engaging:
- Context > Time Toast, Dipity, Google Drive
- Location > Google Maps, Meograph
- Collation > ThingLink, Storify
- Visualisation > Tableau, Many Eyes
I am familiar with some of these and hope to learn more about them. But ThingLink was the first tool that I checked out and researched.
What is it?
Thinglink is a provider that allows users to create an interactive image by enabling pictures, video, audio, links, profiles, and other tags to be attached or ‘tagged’ onto a static image, transforming it into a navigational surface.
So how can this be used to enrich stories?
One of the main benefits of this tool is to make images more interesting and more informative.
- Maps – If you are embedding a .JPEG of a map into a news story and want to show different events occurring on the map, this is an easy way to do so. Have a look at the way which The Washington Post has produced this interactive map of Syria.
- Saying who is who in an image and linking to biographical information
- Adding more detail or opinion to a document e.g. government documents, the budget
- Discussing what happened across a timeline
One interesting example that I thought of was using this tool in food sections of the paper online. If you see a photograph of a cooked meal, is it sometimes difficult to determine which ingredient is which? Let’s be honest, frequently when we see recipes we don’t know what ingredients are, so would a link to a Wikipedia definition be useful? My answer is yes. Here’s what I came up with after looking at an African cooking recipe on the BBC’s website:
(Unfortunately I cannot embed directly as my site is not on WordPress.org but here is a link)
Do you think tools like Thinglink can be used helpfully by news organisations or is it just a digital gimmick?