Content Creation Tools for Journalists
Content Creation Tools for Journalists is a practical and actionable guide, with tips and strategies on how to use the myriad of tools available to journalists to source and gather content, do reporting and research, connect with sources, and engage readers on social media.
The tools that journalists use on a daily basis have changed in recent years, as the habits of audiences have also evolved. The shift from print to digital is not only having an impact on journalistic practice but also on the tools that are used to create content for journalism.
Content Creation Tools for Journalists is a review-based, online course for individuals who want to learn the skills and techniques necessary to produce content for their own work or business.
When it comes to news, the Internet has become the first stop for most people. A lot of news content is generated and delivered online these days, whether on a newspaper’s website or a blog. That leaves us with the question: what tools do journalists use to create content?
Social media platforms aren’t a specific tool, but they can be excellent for journalists to interact with their audience and share valuable content. You can easily engage with followers through comments, direct messages, and stories. You can also share your latest projects through interactive posts and get in touch with potential interviewees, sources, experts, and other journalists.
But a crucial feature for journalists on social media is live streaming. Live streaming is defined as “real-time video delivery that is facilitated through social media platforms.”
Although many journalists use pre-recorded videos for their projects for a more polished presentation of their ideas, live streaming catches everything in real-time. Capturing events in real-time gives the audience a chance to experience the raw emotion and overall realness in a situation as it’s happening. They’re also more likely to be engaged and willing to leave comments and initiate conversations with you as you’re reporting.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Linkedin all have live streaming capabilities. You can also add a more professional layer by using quality equipment and ensuring your network can support live streaming.
If you can even enlist a small team to keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes, do so. Cross-promote your intention to go live across all platforms you use. Be consistent with when, how often, and where you go live.
Answer the Public
Answering a question for searchers is key to getting your content to show up in search results. But how do you know what the question is? With Answer the Public, you can plug in a keyword and the tool will give you the most popular Google and Bing searches related to that term. Free and paid options are available depending on your needs.
If you have a topic in mind but are having trouble coming up with a headline, BuzzSumo can show you what headlines are performing best for that topic. You also can provide the URL for a competitor and see what headlines are working best for them. The free plan allows for 10 searches per month, but several paid plans are available as well.
This online whiteboard is a great tool for journalists who are collaborating with one or more team members working remotely (basically all of us). Users can provide instant feedback to avoid emailing back and forth or vote for favorite ideas to make decisions faster. Digital sticky notes and flowcharts are available, as well as a number of plug-ins that allow you to work with your favorite apps and tools within the platform.
When coming up with your next story, it’s important to keep ideas organized. XMind is a brainstorming tool that helps you make creative mind maps that can aid in efficiency, creativity, and collaboration.
Account Analysis for Twitter
Account Analysis looks at all of a Twitter user’s public tweets and provides analysis through easy-to-grasp visualizations. It’s helpful for anyone trying to learn more about another user. Use it when you want to make sure someone is legit before you embed a tweet in a story, fact-check a bold claim, or attempt to identify if a user is a bot or not.
This site collects and makes available public safety and other audio streams from across the country. Even better, with a subscription, it gives users access to 365 days of archived recordings.
By monitoring Parse.ly’s network of thousands of high-traffic, premium content sites, Currents allows publishers to gain insights into what topics are performing best and the keywords audiences are using to find articles that they read. This measurement of attention, not just shares and searches, is key to helping journalists understand the attention habits of their readers.
This free tool offers journalists a way to file a public records request with all the necessary legal boilerplate details. You also can track the progress of your request or share the request with other users.
Free Speech Tracker
Part of the Free Speech Project, this tracker offers a compilation of instances of the First Amendment being exercised, debated, or tested. It’s free-of-charge to the public, updated regularly, and is neutral and nonpartisan.
Google Dataset Search
Use this Google tool to locate datasets from thousands of repositories on the web through simple keyword searches or by searching specific websites. To make it even more convenient, results also display datasets’ publication dates, sources, authors, and descriptions.
Google Reverse Image Search
Upload an image and the search engine will give a list of pages with a similar image. The tool is useful for verifying the source of images, screenshots, or memes for a story.
This tool extracts data from across the web and can be incredibly helpful for data journalists and investigative journalists. With Import.io, writers can pull data from multiple sources, like the US Census Bureau, World Health Organization, and CIA World Factbook. The site explains that data “lends credibility to sources and can help explain complex topics to the public in a visual way.”
KoBoToolbox is a free and open source tool for field data collection in challenging environments, like humanitarian crises or natural disasters. Developed by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, journalists can create and share survey forms to collect data and perform analyses and mapping. The site allows you to archive questions for future use, and no internet connection is needed to collect data – it’s stored offline and will sync when you’re back online.
Little Sis, the “opposite of big brother,” is a free-to-use database that shows connections between powerful individuals and organizations. The site organizes data about these relationships to provide transparency for journalists, watchdogs, and grassroots activists. The site says it’s connected more than 400,000 dots so far.
Measures for Justice
Designed to increase the transparency of local justice systems, Measures for Justice is a data portal with county-by-county criminal justice data for 500 U.S. counties in 20 states.
ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer allows journalists and researchers to search the full text of millions of digital nonprofit tax filings to the IRS. Dating back to 2011, the new features allow users to go deeper into the filings and search for keywords or phrases that appear anywhere in the document. According to ProPublica, “The possibilities are nearly limitless.”
Journalists use OpenSpending to investigate public financial data. Data includes budgets, spending, and balance sheets. The open community format allows any individual or organization – nonprofit and for-profit – to contribute information. Data sets include easy-to-use charts and tables to help users digest the numbers.
This is an identity resolution engine. Journalists only need one piece of data, like an email address, to verify information about a person, like their name, work history, and social profiles. It can help you gain insights and usable information on your contacts. Use it to locate persons of interest, uncover associations, vet sources, and more.
Search TV for story ideas, share clips with your team, or get a clip or GIF from TV to social platforms in seconds.SnapStream allows media professionals to record multiple TV channels at once, search by transcript, and easily create and share TV clips.
This is a useful tool to find out if a site is malicious, using phishing tactics, or possibly impersonating another brand.
Veracio is a user-friendly survey creation tool that also weighs results with census data to give you an idea if your results accurately reflect your community. This means inaccuracies are minimized. The service is free, you can make as many surveys as you want, and surveys are embeddable.
This URL monitoring tool crawls websites of your choosing and, based on filters you create, extracts core content changes and includes these in daily/weekly emails and side-by-side text comparisons. It’s particularly useful for monitoring updates on government and political sites.
All you need is a YouTube URL for this tool to pull any hidden data from the hosted video. Amnesty International created the tool to help verify newsworthy user-generated videos. Data includes the upload time and all thumbnails associated with the video, which are crucial details needed to verify the video.
If you need a place to store, organize, and share your research for an upcoming story, Zotero is a free tool built for that exact purpose. The software can sense when you’re viewing research materials on the web and can automatically save it for reference. Co-writing and bibliography creation features are also available.
Currents, in the words of Parsely’s Co-Founder and CEO, Sachin Kamdar, is the world’s first live view of what people care about online. Built on Parse.ly’s network of thousands of high-traffic, premium content sites, Currents is a free tool that shows the attention of over 1 billion people each month and 850,000 viewed articles each day. It enables publishers to see which topics are performing the best in news sites around the world. It also shows the keywords that people are using to search the content and how those topics have performed historically.
When developing a content strategy, it’s not enough to know what happens on one site. Content creators want to understand what topics are driving attention from platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google to sites across the Internet. Currents makes it easy to compare traffic from these platforms, which can help with prioritizing editorial strategies and figuring out where to promote content after it’s published.
While TinEye has been around for a few years, its importance as a tool has grown as journalists have become increasingly vulnerable to fake news especially around imagery and photos. TinEye is an image search engine that uses image identification technology rather than keywords, metadata or watermarks. When you submit an image on the Tineye website it will scour the web to find out when and where it was used first. TinEye creates a unique digital signature or fingerprint of the image and matches it with other indexed images. This also allows it to determine whether the image has been digitally tampered with.
SEMrush Topic Research Tool
Topic research is one of the most effective ways to quickly come up with ideas to explore further and to inspire your content plan. The SEMrush topic research tool makes it a quick and easy process to come up with a whole host of potential ideas around your core topic in just minutes.
Just enter a subtopic and see related articles and questions being asked in real-time.
Cost: From $99.95 per month (but this includes an entire sweet of content, SEO, PPC, and social media tools)
Mobile Editing Tools
People are choosing to engage with video content a lot more these days. This can be due to an increase in better, more accessible cameras, concepts, and video platforms to share videos on. Additionally, the quantity and quality of videos can also be traced to the mobile editing apps available. InShot, for example, is a free video editing app that’s excellent for any video you want to give a pro touch to.
Journalists are creating videos, images, and other visuals more often to talk about their upcoming projects, share previews of those projects, document travel, record interviews, and interact with other journalists. The best mobile editing apps include the following functions:
- Trim, split or merge video clips
- Apply filters to images
- Integrate music into visuals
- Add text and stickers to any image
- Edit any visual on the go
In addition, many mobile editing apps also have the flexibility of an Android or Apple version available. Do a bit of exploring on these apps to get familiar with all of their features and how you can best use them to enhance your journalism.
The term ‘content creation tools’ is just as general as the phrase it describes. There are many different programs that can be used to create content digitally, such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, and Apple iCloud. Each of these programs has specific uses and purposes that they were designed to accomplish. Simply put, a content creation tool is anything that can be used to create content digitally or on your computer.
The digital age has changed the way information flows in the world of publishing. Information and ideas move faster, and journalists today need to be both quick and accurate. Yet technology alone is not enough.