A new supertool fights fake images, plus the Economist’s guide to Instagram and a new way to pay for journalism

February 11, 2020
Category: Tech & Tools

This week in digital tools for journalism

This article originally appeared in Try This! — Tools for Journalism, our newsletter about digital tools. Want bite-sized news, tutorials and ideas about the best digital tools for journalism in your inbox every Tuesday? Sign up here.

How can technology strengthen fact-checking? Jigsaw, a nonprofit division of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, asks and then answers its own question with the announcement of Assembler, an experimental detection platform that aims to help fact checkers and journalists identify manipulated images. The platform pulls together several existing technologies — for example, one that spots copy-and-pastes within images and another that detects image brightness manipulations — into one supertool. Right now, Jigsaw is working with a group of global newsrooms and fact-checkers to test Assembler’s viability in real situations. That means, unfortunately, it isn’t available for the rest of us yet.

This new tool can show you what journalists are writing about on a large scale. MuckRack Trends (log-in required) is a lot like Google Trends, which shows you what people are searching for on Google, but it’s specific to news articles. You can use it, for example, see how many news articles have been written about Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho over the past week (5,733, as I write this) and compare it to someone like, say, Martin Scorsese (5,612). There are SO MANY great uses for this. I wrote about some of them here.

The Economist makes charts … for Instagram. The visual social media platform is a natural home for informative and interesting infographics from one of the world’s most prestigious media brands. Charts like “Who is more liberal: Uncle Joe or Mayor Pete?” and “Interest in veganism is surging” perform well between the organization’s beautiful photos and illustrations. The Economist offers a few tips for others willing to try putting info on Insta, including: Keep colors consistent so that fast-scrollers know who they’re looking at, rethink charts and graphs to fit into a small space and cater to your audience, which is probably younger on Instagram.

If you need a new online publishing system, start here. Content management systems, or CMSs, are the engines that run our online journalism. A good engine works without you having to think much about it. A bad one — and I’m just making things up here — takes forever to load, formats text in unexplainable ways and occasionally deletes your stories outright. Together with News Catalyst, Poynter put together a guide on how to get a new CMS, along with a look at five of our favorite modern CMS choices and live demo opportunities for each.

SPONSORED: It takes a village to publish a story. That’s why Trint’s collaborative speech-to-text platform lets newsroom teams work on the same transcript at the same time. Trint’s Pro Team plan means editing, verification and exporting happen simultaneously — stories are published in near real time and with 100% accurate information. And with Trint’s Workspaces, you can choose who has access to what data through custom permissions. Journalists, editors and producers from different teams instantly get access to the transcripts they need as soon as they’re uploaded. Start your Pro Team trial today.

Here’s a map that shows stunning satellite images of locations across the globe. From school bus assembly plants (so much yellow) to airports (kind of meta!), from iron ore mine ponds (so much pink) to man-made islands that depict a pair of dolphins circling each other (‘nuff said), this map is fun to explore and might offer a story idea or two.

Don’t call it a paywall. It’s more of a parking meter. A company called Transact has joined the fight to get people to pay for journalism. Transact’s transactions work similarly to micropayments, in which readers pay for articles from across the internet à la carte instead of a flat-rate subscription, except that users load up lumps of money at once and spend as they go. Transact calls it a “digital media debit card.” The Santa Barbara Independent, an alt-weekly newspaper in California, is one of the first to implement it. Transact joins a growing list of alternative payment schemes for journalism, including Blendle (which made a pivot away from micropayments not long ago) and Scroll (which kills ads and provides a better user experience).

Email is still a massive hassle for a lot of people, me included. I’ve tried countless tools to change that — Gmail filters, Inbox Pause, Spike, etc. etc. etc. — all to no avail. The folks behind Basecamp, the project management software that suddenly seemed to be part of every workplace out of nowhere, just launched a landing page for an upcoming tool called Hey that promises to solve our email problems. I’m skeptical, but if anyone has the pedigree to dam this deluge, it has to be these folks. I’ll let you know as soon as I get an invite.

Here’s some interesting web design … from the Audubon Society. Call me jaded, call me hard to impress, but I haven’t seen anything that has made me say “wow” in a while. This illustrations + GIFs + magazine-style layout from the nonprofit environmental organization left me chirping with delight.

The deadline to apply for our Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media is this Friday. This is a free week-long leadership seminar specifically for journalists of color who want to advance their careers in media, in partnership with The Washington Post.

As a parting gift this week, here’s how to turn off Netflix’s most annoying feature. This has absolutely nothing to do with digital tools for journalism. But autoplaying trailers are a scourge upon the world and I’m here to solve problems.

Ren LaForme is Poynter’s digital tools reporter. He can be reached at ren@poynter.org or on Twitter at @itsren.

Try This! is supported by the American Press Institute and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.