Category Archives: Tool of the Week

Tool of the week for journalists: Timeline

Tool of the week: Timeline

What is it? A wizard to enable you to create and embed a timeline of curated content.

How is it of use to journalists? News sites often use a timeline for digital storytelling. This is a tool just released to enable you to do just that.

There are several examples, such as a Timeline of the Republican run-up.

Mashable compares Timeline to Storify, a tool that enables you to curate web content by dragging and dropping tweets and other media to create a story.

Mashable’s report states:

Timeline, created by Zach Wise, a multimedia journalist and journalism professor, was developed in partnership with the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University, where Wise teaches. The interactive tool allows users to generate timelines on the web by curating content from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Maps and SoundCloud.

“The tools that already exist on the web are almost all either hard on the eyes or hard to use,” said Wise. “Timeline is an open-source, JavaScript and HTML/HTML 5 based tool that creates elegant timelines.”

Timeline does not offer the simplicity of Storify and although aimed at non-techies, it will require you to add some code to the head of your site and will take a quite a bit longer to create than a Storify.

One way you can create the timeline is by using a Google Doc. Timeline provides a template and you can simply add your links to the media.

For example, the below screenshot shows how we used the Google Doc template to create a timeline of some of the key phone-hacking moments, adding a Flickr photo, tweets and YouTube footage.



Tool of the week for journalists: freeDive, to create a searchable database

Tool of the week: freeDive

What is it? A wizard to turn a Google spreadsheet into a searchable, embeddable interactive

How is it of use to journalists? This is a fantastic tool from the Knight Digital Media Center, based at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

freeDive is a wizard that allows you to take a Google spreadsheet, turn it into an interactive database, embed it into a news story and let readers to explore the data.

A word of warning: the embed code created is mainly JavaScript which some platforms restrict.

WordPress users can download a plugin such as Artiss Code Embed which works with WordPress security settings, allowing you to embed JavaScript.

The tool generates a simple embed code and also has an option to allow you to download the HTML, upload it onto your server and use an iframe.

Here is one we made earlier. This searchable database shows the ABC-audited web traffic figures for regional news groups.

[iframe src=”” height=”650px”]


Tool of the week for journalists:’s map-based search

Tool of the week:’s map-based search

What is it? An option of searching for data sets by geographical location

How is it of use to journalists? Since the launch of just over two years ago, and the promotion of open government data, the site has become a go to place for many journalists in search of a data set.

The site now has a map tool which allows you to search for data by location, potentially useful for journalists working on local news sites, newspapers and radio stations.

The map-based search allows you to draw a search area, submit the area and find data relating to that location.

Not tried your hand at data journalism? This guide written for by Simon Rogers, editor of the Guardian’s Datablog tells you how to get a grip with data journalism.

  • also offers a one or two-day course in data journalism, led by Kevin Anderson. The next introduction to data journalism courses are being held on 9 May or 28 May. The intermediate data journalism course will be on 29 May. Those looking to expand their skills quickly can book on both courses, turning it into a two-day course and saving £50 on the course fees.

Tool of the week for (photo)journalists: ZangZing

Tool of the week: ZangZing

What is it? Photo storage and sharing site which is a good solution for anyone using Apple’s soon-to-be-closed MobileMe.

How is it of use to journalists? This week’s tool is one for photographers, particularly those who have been using Apple’s MobileMe.

MobileMe allows photographers to store photos, password protect them and allow client’s access to particular sets. Users can then invite a client to download the entire high-resolution photo set or a single image.

MobileMe is no longer accepting new subscribers and in June will close all galleries.

ZangZing allows MobileMe users to save and move their galleries before they are wiped and has many of the features available in MobileMe.

In addition to being able to add photos from MobileMe, ZangZing allows you to import from sites including Flickr, Dropbox and Instagram.

ZangZing does have an option to make a photo or gallery private but it requires anyone who wants to download the images to sign up for a ZangZing account.

Tool of the week for journalists:

Tool of the week:

What is it? An easy to use portfolio tool created by a freelance journalist for freelance journalists.

How is it of use to journalists? was built by freelance journalist Nicholas Holmes who wanted a way of presenting links to his best work.

Launched in October, now has thousands of links and is being used by journalists from the BBC to the New York Times to Al Jazeera. You can see Nicholas Holmes’ portfolio at

Last week it was been adapted and redesigned with the help of feedback from other users.

As of this today, has a “multimedia clippings” feature, which opens up for broadcast journalists too.

Another feature released today is RSS, allowing anyone who wants to subscribe to a feed of your best work to have an easy way of doing so.

RSS was “one of the most-requested features since the redesigned site launched late last year”, according to Holmes, who is is tourism Editor at AFP/Relaxnews and a freelance contributor to other publications including the Independent.

It’s quite a major upgrade and means users will be able to activate a personal RSS feed of their work, allowing them to easily export their cuttings to sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to ensure all of their contacts are kept up-to-date, whenever they add a new piece to their page.

A short video on how to get started with is below.

Tool of the week for journalists: Press Pass, to search for journalists on Twitter

Tool of the week: Press Pass

What is it? A new tool to allow you to search for journalists on Twitter

How is it of use to journalists? Press Pass allows you to search for journalists on Twitter by “beat, media outlet or region”.

It is not an exhaustive list as yet. For example, there are 400 New York Times journalists active on Twitter, but only 275 listed on Press Pass at the last check.

Journalists can asked to be added by tweeting to say they report on a beat, work for a title or cover a region.

Tool of the week for journalists – Searchmetrics Essentials

Tool of the week: Searchmetrics Essentials

What is it? A tool to test your news site’s SEO and social rankings

How is it of use to journalists? Searchmetrics is a paid-for tool to allow you to see your site’s SEO and social rankings. used it to discover the top 10 Twitter and top 10 Facebook stories of 2011.

Full access costs around £150 per month but you can now have limited access for free with last week’s release of Searchmetrics Essentials.

Type in your domain name and you will be able to see your SEO ranking. For example, typing in shows we are number one search result for “journalism jobs” and number one for “journalism”.


Tool of the week for journalists – Pinterest

Tool of the week: Pinterest

What is it? A bookmarking and sharing tool

How is it of use to journalists? Pinterest has been growing in popularity recently.

It is a virtual bookmarking system that can be used by newsrooms to curate and share news.

Indeed Liz Heron, social media editor of the New York Times (NYT), suggested at last week’s news:rewired conference that NYT will be joining.

When Heron was asked: “Are there any emerging platforms that NYT are excited about?”

She answered:

Pinterest is one up and coming platform, but we’re still figuring out what the community wants there and how we can deliver something new. You’ll see us there soon. has since created a Pinterest account and has used it to collate blog posts from news:rewired.

It is invite-only at the moment but we have a handful to share. Email us using this link if you would like one.

Tool of the week for journalists: Tableau Public, for data visualisations

Tool of the week: Tableau Public

What is it? A data visualisations tool, allowing you to create interactive graphs, charts and maps.

How is it of use to journalists? Tableau Public is a free tool that allows journalists to upload an Excel spreadsheet or text file and turn the data into an interactive visualisation that you can embed on your news site or blog.

Here are five examples of how Tableau has been used by news sites to tell stories. A quick browse will give you a sense of how the tool can be used to explain news stories.

One of Tableau’s real strengths is providing the reader with the opportunity to move a slider or select a drop down and see how the visualisation alters when a variable changes.

In order to create a visualisation you will need a PC (or a Windows environment on your Mac) and to download the free software.

I was able to upload an Excel file and within less than two minutes had produced a map showing what are predicted to be the most-populous countries in 2100.

I had previously used this data set to create a visualisation in Google Fusion Tables and Tableau was equally easy to navigate.

For those who have not tried creating data visualisations, Tableau requires no technical ability and is easier to use than the wizard options that allow you to create graphs in Excel.

There are options for sorting and reordering data, plus changing the colours and view options.

Tableau also has a paid-for option. The difference between the free tool and the premium option is that Tableau Public requires you to publish your visualisation to the web.

Tableau launched version 7.0 a couple of weeks ago and will soon be adding functionality allowing you to create a map using UK postcodes, according to Ross Perez, data analyst at the US-based company.

Disclaimer: Tableau Public is a sponsor of the conference news:rewired. This relationship did not influence this review.

Tool of the week for journalists – Formulists (use it before it disappears)

Tool of the week: Formulists

What is it? A tool to create smart Twitter lists (and more).

How is it of use to journalists? Formulists is a fantastic tool to create Twitter lists. Simply sign in with your Twitter account, search for a keyword such as “journalist” and Formulists will create a Twitter list of all the people you follow with the word “journalist” in their profile. Formulists found that 135 people I follow include the word journalist in their profile, for example. Here is the Twitter list.

But be warned: Formulists is shutting down. You can still create lists but they will no longer be automatically updated.

It is a real shame this tool is being pulled, particularly as Twitter lists are a great way for journalists to filter those they want to follow and focus on. If your “all friends” stream has become too busy, make it more manageable by creating lists based on keywords while you still can. Your lists will not be updated as you follow additional Twitter users but Formulists provides a great way to start creating new lists.

It is worth exploring Formulists as it allows you to do more than simply create lists, such as allowing you to search for new Twitter users by topic.

The Formulists blog also points out some additional Twitter filtering tools.