What’s Worth My Time? Digital Journalism Tools To Try (or Not)

Digital Journalism Tools Reviewed













After attending the San Diego Chapter Society of Professional Journalists’ panel on digital journalism earlier this spring, we came away with pages of notes on new journalism tools to try out. We divided the tools among us and have spent the last couple months evaluating which ones are worth our time, and which ones may not be a fit for us or PR professionals, in general.

Our findings:

Journalism tools worth a look-see

Facebook 360: This newer Facebook feature lets your friends and business/group page fans interact with your photos by creating an immersive experience. Now, you can upload your panoramic pictures or photospheres (created using the Google Camera and Google Streetview apps), and your friends and fans can move their phones or mouse (if viewed on a desktop) to see what you see on a larger scale. We’ve already used it to highlight a client event at the San Diego Convention Center.

Facebook 360 photo of United Way of San Diego County breakfast

Nuzzel: Nuzzel is an app/website/newsletter that curates the stories most shared by your friends on Facebook and Twitter, so there’s no chance of FOMO. Yes, it’s within your personal “bubble,” but it does bring some interesting issues up to the top, and it also allows you to curate your own newsletter to subscribers with notes about the stories you’ve read and want to share.

Pew Research Center Newsletter: Journalists love stats, especially new stats, and Pew provides a credible stream of reports that may be beneficial to clients. For example, one of the latest newsletters, noted “Roughly two-thirds of Americans ages 65 and older go online, while half have broadband at home and about four-in-ten own smartphones.”

CrowdTangle: This tool partners with well-established businesses such as BBC, PBS, Facebook and BuzzFeed to provide users with a range of information that is useful for those in the business of publishing content. The types of tools provided include competitive analysis, content discovery and trending topics, among others. For easy access, it combines the information curated from its partners into one real-time dashboard. Users can also set up custom notifications to create the user experience that’s best for them. This can be extremely useful for marketers or PR professionals, and it would be interesting to see how using CrowdTangle compares to executing these features in-house.

Meh, not super impressed …

AskWhale.com: This was universally one of our least favorites. It’s basically like Quora, but people ask supposed influencers questions and people respond in 15-second videos. We’re not sure why answers should be in video form, except for narcissistic purposes. Pass.

Ask Whale ScreenshotPeach: Peach is a social media app that combines the features of its previously created and more widely used social media app relatives. Some of these features include Boomerang videos, photos with captions, status updates and hashtagging, which we have already seen on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, among others. Peach’s unique features, such as an array of random subjects and questions users can post about, don’t have enough practicality to help the app stand on its own against the other social media giants … at least not yet.

Pablo: Pablo is a photo editing/image creation site created by Buffer. It provides thousands of stock photos, fonts, quotes and filters for free use. If you are looking to create simple graphics with a quote or text over a photo, then this is the perfect tool for you. However, there are other free graphic sites, such as Canva , that have many more elements that allow more creative freedom (and personally, we prefer).

The Local Fix Newsletter: This newsletter may be of interest to journalists, but we found it a bit too random for our liking. Lots about podcasts and disconnected social media info. Plus, it features nothing “local.”

Further research required …

QZ or Quartz App: Imagine if you had a friend who would text you the news in short bite-sized messages. If you liked the topic, she would continue; if you didn’t, she’d move onto the next story. That’s what Quartz does. Yes, it’s a bit random, but it’s entertaining for passing the time. There’s also a website and a newsletter, but we enjoy the app best.

Quartz screenshot

Banjo: Self-marketed as the “world’s first crystal ball,” Banjo gives users the ability to know things that are happening in the world before others. Banjo uses social and digital signals to keep track of things like the weather, photos taken and trending topics being discussed in a certain area. This compilation creates an idea of what’s “normal,” so that when something “abnormal” happens the system can detect it. Without paid access it is unclear how users can post to Banjo or pull information from Banjo, but this is something that could potentially benefit businesses that work nationally and internationally and have some funds to spare. We also know that local broadcast networks in San Diego regularly use it when they need to pull up video and aren’t able to send a camera out.

Slack: This one is a little tricky. While we like the idea of eliminating email (the primary purpose of this tool), we’re not convinced that it’s worth the switch if you’re a smaller company. Slack has been lauded by larger companies, however, since it lets you create communication channels for specific departments, locations, projects, teams, etc. A couple features we do like: You can integrate tools you’re already using into the platform, like Twitter, Dropbox and Google Docs, and everything in the channels is searchable – including content within documents like pdfs. Can’t do that with Outlook!

Storyful: While this may not be the perfect fit for PR people, Storyful is a great tool for media to gather content, video and pictures from around the globe for their stories, and ensure the info. is accurate. Storyful verifies content before curating it on its site, and making it available to users. We actually coordinated the sale of footage to the company of a record-breaking skydive formation video taken by client Skydive Perris. Check it out.

Storyful story about skydiving we coordinated