How journalists can use Thinglink

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.

  1. 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
  2. Saying who is who in an image and linking to biographical information
  3. Adding more detail or opinion to a document e.g. government documents, the budget
  4. 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?

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