Author Archives: Yan Lu

Host Online Debates, Conversations With Google+ Hangouts

Google Hangout has become a low-budget tool that allows journalists to have some “face time” with their audiences.

In the build up to the 2012 elections, The New York Times held a series of conversations with voters on women’s issues, bipartisanship, switching parties and other popular topics of conversation.

Google Hangouts has also been a key aspect of The Huffington Post’s engagement strategy in their HuffPost Live features, which invite both experts and interested readers into live, online conversations.

Here are some other ideas on how StateImpact reporters could consider to use Google Hangouts:

  • Hold an “ask me anything” session on Google Hangout, with yourself or a local leader or expert.
  • Moderate a Hangout debate on core community issues, and embed the Hangout video on your site to generate more discussions. Continue reading

Advanced Google Chart Tools

Did you have fun with the updated Google Chart Tools? Well, that’s only the tip of the iceberg of fun and possibility. Google has created a chart gallery with different kinds of prototypes for you to play with.

I will explain to you how we could use some of those prototypes for better data storytelling. You can also consider this as your first step into the information design world, thinking about grouping and presenting information. Continue reading

Google Charts Gets a Style Update

Here’s How to Take Advantage of It In Your Blogs

Our designer Danny DeBelius has introduced us to a data visualization tool called Google Image Charts. It’s pretty handy when you need some simple charts to help tell your stories. Now, guess what? Google has updated that tool and make the experience even better.

The main difference is that you don’t need to go to a Image Charts Editor page, but you can finish the process in your Google spreadsheet.

Connect to your data in real time

Let me explain this tool by using an example. I have a spreadsheet with data about Idaho legislators compiled by Emilie Ritter Saunders. Now try this: if you go to the spreadsheet, change some numbers in the education worksheet and refresh this post, you will see the numbers also changed here in the image below.

Isn’t it amazing? The updated Google charts tool connect your chart to your data in real time, making it convenient to change numbers or styles or add data to your posts as it becomes available.

Easy to use

This tool is also easy to use. We all have some experience using Excel to produce simple charts and graphics. The rules are similar here: Continue reading

REVIEW: How to Clean Up Your Topic Pages

The arrival of the new year means it’s clean-up time–for your house, your garden, and for your topic pages! With legislative sessions around the corner in most of our states,  we want our tag buildouts and topic pages ready and clear so that our audience can find your content easily.

StateImpact Pennsylvania

So let’s review what our founding parents said about topic pages, or tag buildouts:

1. New tag buildouts/topic pages

To get started, read Elise’s post “What, Why and How on Tag Buildouts“. The post includes a video that tells you how to build a new topic page.

2. Managing your tags

Use Matt Thompson’s post “How to classify your posts & manage your tags” as a reference to manage your tags. Here’re some highlights.

The best tags are the dis­crete enti­ties (i.e. spe­cific indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions) named in your posts. In gen­eral, it’s best to use full names rather than abbre­vi­a­tions. Instead of tag­ging posts with “Obama,” use “Barack Obama.” It’ll look bet­ter as the title to a topic page, and it will aid search engine optimization.

Continue reading

Using LinkedIn For Backgrounding People and Companies

UPDATE: Next “LinkedIn for Journalists” training will be held on January 10. Read below for details….

I suppose that a lot of you use LinkedIn as a professional social media platform. Well, did you know that it can also be a good reporting tool? As a journalist, you can use LinkedIn to conduct background research,  identify potential sources and reach out to your core communities.

I took a LinkedIn training, and here are some highlights on how you can use LinkedIn for reporting.

Before we start, let’s get familiar with the navigation bar because a lot of searches will start from there.

1. Finding Sources

  • Advanced People search: Click on “Advanced” on the right side of the search bar, and you can search people by company, including past and current employees.
  • Company search: Search companies by clicking on the right third drop-down menu on the navigation bar, and you will be able to see how many people among your first and second-degree connections work at a certain company. Continue reading

Fun with Google Analytics

If you’re just get­ting started using Google Analytics, there are several online tools and how-tos to help you get started. One of our favorites is Media Bistro‘s primer on some of the key elements that journalists find helpful (lots of them are designed for business folk).

Of course, Google has an exhaustive set of tuto­ri­als and how-tos on their site.

In this post, I am going to share with, step-by-step, how to find some of the team’s favorite analytics.  Continue reading