Chris Essig

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

Google declares Living Stories a success

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Almost two months ago, I blogged about an innovative news-gathering format being tested at Google called Living Stories. At the time, the New York Times and Washington Post were experimenting with the format. Well, a few weeks back Google declared the experiment a success and opened it up to the public. Specifically, Google is open-sourcing the code, allowing developers to create their own “living stories” using Google technology.

As I noted when I first blogged about it, Living Stories has a lot of potential. It basically allows newspapers to create a web site for specific issues they cover extensively. Along with written stories, newspapers can add images, links, timelines and more to the web page. The advantage of the technology is basically being able to store all of this content into one place. Navigation is also a snap, allowing for an easy, and informative, reader experience.

From Google:

The basic idea of a living story is to combine all of the news coverage on a running story on a single page. Every day, instead of writing a new article on the story that sits at a new URL and contains some new developments and some old background, a living story resides at a permanent URL, that is updated regularly with new developments. This makes it easier for readers to get the latest updates on the stories that interest them, as well as to review deeper background materials that are relevant for a story’s context.

The Post, for instance, put together a number of interactive stories, including one on area schools. The Times covered the N.F.L. playoffs. Basically any issue or topic that a newspaper covers extensively can be utilized.

The only question is how difficult it will be to create stories, especially for non-techy journos. I haven’t tested it out myself, so I can’t answer that question. But hopefully we’ll know for sure in the next few months as newspapers begin experimenting.

For more background, here is a video from Google:

Image posted by Flickr user psd. It is used under a Creative Commons license.

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Written by csessig

March 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm

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