About two dozen people – including FIU students, FIU professors, and professionals – gathered at the Biscayne Bay Campus last week to participate in a workshop focused on covering the midterm elections.
The bilingual training on Oct. 12 was hosted by the Florida Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist as part of a partnership with the Google News Initiative. An English session was held in the morning while the Spanish-language workshop was held in the afternoon. The FIU-SPJ student chapter served as a co-sponsor.
The event covered verification and fact checking, safety and security, ethics in journalism as well as data journalism.
Samaruddin Stewart and Samantha Sunne were the trainers of the morning session. Stewart is an SPJ program manager who has been working with the Google News initiative since 2016. He is also a media technologist and journalist. Sunne is a freelance reporter and data journalist.
Both trainers focused on the resources contained online at: https://newsinitiative.withgoogle.com/training/. It is a place, they said, where journalists and students can find tools to improve their reporting and storytelling.
Stewart noted that when news breaks, it tend to break online.
“It breaks on social media, someone posts a picture, shares a video, and the problem with that is that sometimes it’s real, sometimes it’s not,” she said.
In order to help that out, he explained how to use Google Search, Google Scholar, Image Search, Reverse Image Search, Google Maps as well as Google Earth Pro.
He also spoke on ways to make passwords stronger and available protections for journalists. Stewart said the following link — https://securityplanner.org/#/ — contains valuable information for those interested in knowing more.
Sunne led the topic of data journalism. She said that data is a term broader than most people think, and is properly thought of being the use of information, usually numbers, to tell a story. She presented several tools, including Data Gif Maker, Google Sheets, Google Trends and Google Maps, she said can help journalists gather and manipulate data.
“Things like color, visualization and animation are going to make a huge difference if people are going to stick on your story or not,” said Sunne.
Sunne also spoke about Google Trends, which shows what is being searched on Google and with what frequency. This can be focused on a particular area, giving an idea on which topics are interesting in a specific place.
FIU student and a reporter for Panther Now, Valentina Palm, said that the training helped her better understand the tools as well as how to develop a strategic approach on election coverage.
For her part, Journalism Professor Lorna Veraldi said she “learned a lot about the tools that are available to help journalists verify information and make it more accessible and attractive to their end users.”
But, she noted “these tools present ever changing challenges to journalists and editors in deciding how to deploy their resources, what data deserves attention, and how not to get lost in the weeds.”
The next “Covering and Protecting Your Elections” training will be held at Washington D.C. on October 16. For more information access https://www.spj.org/election18.asp.