Digital Tools for Today’s Busy Journalist

Nowadays, there are several tools out there to help the journalist with their newsgathering and reporting. It may be hard to make a choice on which tools to pick. This week’s Hub post features some of the latest digital tools that may help the reporter on the go.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a journalism conference for educators called Journalism Interactive in College Park, Maryland. The conference featured a lot of great panels and discussions on the future of journalism education however it also featured a lot of great tips and tools to try out that are applicable to journalism students but to journalists as well.

Here are some of the latest digital tools mentioned at the conference to try out and explore.

This tool allows you to create timelines on the fly. There is nothing to download as you create the timelines in the web browser. They have a free account that you can try out (limited to one timeline). If you want to go beyond the free account, they have special packages for small businesses and community groups. Prices range from $5 to $20 a month depending on the account you sign up for.

TimeFlow Analytical Timeline
If you want to create some visualizations with temporal data, this tool may be worth considering. It’s in “alpha” mode meaning that it’s still being tested, so some bugs may exist, but it’s a free tool to download and use. You can create visualizations on a timeline, in a bar chart or in a table.

If you are out in the field reporting and looking to record audio and you only have your smartphone, AudioBoo may be a helpful recorder for your digital toolbox. AudioBoo has been around since March 2009 but continues to be a popular audio recording app. The free plan allows you to record audio up to three minutes in length and save the files in a special AudioBoo account online. They also have a Pro account which provides more flexibility for managing and editing the audio files as well as offering unlimited recording options.

Tools of Inspiration
Sometimes the best tools are the ones of inspiration.

Information is Beautiful is the website of David McCandless, a London-based author who worked for the Guardian and is now an independent data journalist and information designer. His website features unique data visualizations that may inspire you and your reporters for your next data-driven news story.

Try out an App a Week
Amy Webb, CEO of Webbmedia Group presented at the conference about the top trends in journalism education. In particular she mentioned that journalists today should be checking out at least one new mobile app a week, testing it out, taking notes of what works and doesn’t and repeating the process. One site she recommended to help spur this kind of activity is checking out Softpedia. It’s a website that posts the latest and greatest in news and reviews of software downloads for various platforms (mac, windows, linux) as well as for mobile and handheld devices.