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Google applies its AI tech to reporting with 'Journalist Studio' tools

Journalist Studio is part of Google's $300 million investment in journalism projects.
Karissa Bell, @karissabe
October 14, 2020
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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/08/03: Google office in London, UK. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SOPA Images via Getty Images

Since introducing the Google News Initiative in 2018, the company has used the $300 million journalism project to fight disinformation and help publishers make money. Now, Google is also investing in journalism-specific software with Journalist Studio, a suite of free tools available to reporters and media organizations. 

The company says the new tools will aid investigative journalism and other projects that require sifting through vast troves of documents and data. The “anchor product” of Journalist Studio is Pinpoint, a tool that allows reporters and editors to more easily sift through documents, images and audio files. Pinpoint pulls out the names and locations that appear most often in any batch of documents, and allows you to dive into specific mentions of keywords in each file. 

That may not sound like an earth shattering use of Google’s AI tech, but having the tools to quickly analyze hundreds or thousands of documents could be a powerful boost to understaffed newsrooms. And, because it can also pull out names from audio transcripts, handwritten notes or photos of text, Pinpoint could help reporters find details in files that may otherwise be overlooked. The company has already been testing Pinpoint with investigative journalists at The Washington Post and other outlets, but is now allowing reporters anywhere to sign up. 

The other Journalist Studio tool Google’s unveiling today is called the Common Knowledge Project, which allows reporters to make interactive visualizations out of public records data with just a few clicks. A beta version is available now.

Right now, Journalist Studio is just two products, but it’s not difficult to imagine the offerings could eventually expand as they become available to more journalists.

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