10 Simple Tools Every Digital Newsroom Should Be Using in 2014

In a year with more tools at digital journalists’ disposal than ever before, it can be hard to pick what’s really worth using. At NewsWhip, we’re constantly thinking about how online journalists can do their jobs better. That means we come across some of these tools pretty regularly – we even use some of them ourselves. Earlier today, the good folk over at journalism.co.uk listed the 10 key skills that digital journalists need to hone this year. It’s a list that illustrates the changing skillset of the modern online journalist.

On foot of that, here’s our list of top tools for helping today’s digital newsroom put those skills into action. They’re all very simple to use and capable of making a fast impact on your workflow or content. Just click on the titles for a direct link to the tool.

1) Storyful Multisearch

A Chrome extension developed by Storyful, Multisearch is one of those genius tools that have you wondering how you ever managed to do without. Installed as an unintrusive button in your browser bar, it allows you to scour social media channels for all sort of content, from videos and images to eyewitness contacts. Type in any keyword and watch new tabs burst open with fresh and relevant content from across Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and more.

2) Tweetdeck

A no-brainer in the modern newsroom, Tweetdeck’s endless applications make it an extremely powerful content discovery tool. Whether it’s compiling lists of breaking news developments from eye-witnesses and journalists to monitoring the spread of your own content, there’s little that Tweetdeck can’t do when it comes to Twitter.

3) Datawrapper

We’re frequent users of Datawrapper ourselves on the Whip for our monthly social publishers charts (see below). It’s a great tool for visualising large datasets simply. Just clean up your data, upload it and choose from any number of interactive formats to help tell your story. You can even make the data downloadable for interested readers – and it’s entirely free.

4) Quartz Charts Tool

Quartz ChartBusiness site Quartz has been turning heads in the media world recently with their innovative approach to online publishing. One such innovation which fellow journalists will find useful is the chart tool, which easily turns lumps of boring data into eye-catching and informative graphs.

5) Google Media Tools

Google Media ToolsA huge goodie box for online journalists, Google Media contains no end of exciting tools for the digital newsroom. Features range from Google Earth Pro to Advanced Search, a superpowered search tool that allows you to filter your results by region, keyword and time.

6) IFTTT (If This, Then That)

IFTTT IFTTT promises to ‘put the internet to work for you’. The service combines output from ‘channels’ (such as Facebook, RSS feeds, Dropbox) to create a ‘recipe’. For instance, a journalist might use IFTTT to set up a recipe alerting them by email every time a keyword is mentioned in their RSS feed. Simple to set up and full of endless possibilities, it’s reassuring to have IFTTT ticking away in the background even as you work on other things.

7) Google Image Search

Snow Sphinx Perhaps this one sounds obvious, but Google’s image search engine has never been so useful for digital journalists. Content verification is an increasingly important skill for journalists and editors. Every day, newsdesks come across purported eye-witness footage or images from breaking news scenes on Twitter and Facebook. Often, they’re dramatic and exclusive, making them a tempting proposition for instant publication. But they’re often not what they claim to be – like these photos of the Pyramids’ first snow in 100 years, which turned out to be laughably fake. Google allows you to search by image, saving a lot of time and embarrassment when it comes to unverified images. See also: Tineye

8) Twitter Custom Timelines / Storify

Useful for stringing together key tweets and images to tell a story, Twitter’s new custom timelines save the clumsiness of screenshotting or embedding individual tweets. Storify does much the same thing. Here’s an example of a custom timeline of NewsWhip related tweets:

9) Timeline JS

Timeline JS is an interactive timeline that can be embedded inside articles, or as a standalone feature. It’s great for illustrating the timeline of events, and easily allows you to add images, external links and videos. You don’t need to be a brilliant coder to use it either. Just upload your content following the detailed instructions provided, and grab the embed code.

10) NewsWhip Spike

Spike Facebook

Finally, we’d like to suggest our own content discovery platform, Spike. It tracks up to 250,000 pieces of content everyday in real time. Ranking the stories that are performing strongest on Facebook and Twitter, Spike offers digital newsrooms a 360° look at the news that people are talking about and sharing around the world in countless categories. Try it for free today.

Please feel free to add any other tools in the comments below, or let us know on Twitter @newswhip