Chris Essig

Walkthroughs, tips and tricks from a data journalist in eastern Iowa

The future of online news-gathering?

with 2 comments

Google has quickly become the go-to web site for journalists and news gathers alike because it takes everything that is great about the search engine and implements it into a thriving, robust news cooperative. But fortunately for us, Google News is not done evolving. In the last month, the company has unveiled a few new, flashy features that may change news-gathering forever. Well…maybe not. But check them out:

1. “Fast Flip” – Google News received a face-lift last Friday with the addition of the “Fast Flip” option at the bottom of their homepage. The new option allows readers to browse the news by flipping through images of articles as they appear on their publication’s web site. Images can be sorted by region, publication, popularity, etc. This is similar to the options already utilized at Google News. Here’s a screen shot I captured earlier today:

Apparently “Fast Flip” was rolled this out in September over at Google Labs, a sub-site that showcases “experiments” designed by Google developers before they officially make it into Google.com. But on Friday the “experiment” became an official part of the news page. And I believe Google News is all the better for it.

This trend of image-heavy, online news publications is growing. The Chicago Tribune launched a new web site a few months ago that vastly increased the number of images on its front page. Now, almost every main article on the front page is accompanied with an image. And I don’t think the Huffington Post even bothers putting anything online unless they have a stock photo that can be tagged with the article.

This trend will likely continue into the new year. People love photos and they are naturally drawn to web sites that are image happy. And be on the look out for videos to play a more important role on publication web sites, as well. YouTube News is a great example of what some newspapers may latch onto in the coming months.

2. Living Stories – Still in the developer stage on Google Labs is “Living Stories,”a so-called “experiment in presenting news, one designed specifically for the online environment.” Basically a Living Story is a mini-web site devoted to a single topic hosted by a news organization. Content includes images, articles and timelines, and each page is designed with Google’s easy navigation in mind. Topics range from the War in Afghanistan to the NFL Playoffs. Unfortunately only two newspapers are currently participating in the “experiment,” the New York Times and the Washington Post. But the experiment is still young, leaving plenty of time for growth.

The last 12 hours has seen a flurry of activity, leaving me very hopeful for the future. In fact, two living stories have been updated in the time I left for work and now. Hopefully developers find the time to stretch this new technology to the fullest…

As is customary with Google, they released a video to accompany the launch of the web site. It’s pretty self-explanatory but at least it’s short. Check it out:

Oh, and sorry for the really cliche headline.

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Written by csessig

January 11, 2010 at 10:06 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] a comment » I met to post this sooner but didn’t. Anyways, on Monday I posted about the new “Fast Flip” tool on Google News that allows users to surf the news using […]

  2. […] a comment » Almost two months ago, I blogged about an innovative news-gathering format being tested at Google called Living Stories. At the […]


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