15 Newsroom Tools From CIR’s TechRaking Conference

The Googleplex where TechRaking was held.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. — About 200 journalists and techies gathered at the Googleplex yesterday to try to find a more perfect union between muckrakers and technologists at first-ever TechRaking conference. One of the common themes: If we have to do more with less, then technology has to make up the difference. That means we need more tools to help us do things more efficiently.

Albert Sun, a New York Times programmer, captures the problem in a blog post:

A lot of effort at journalism innovation has been focused around the product that our readers experience. People are doing great things to take advantage of the new storytelling forms and new ways of engaging with people that the web browser and the internet have made possible.

But I want to turn some attention to the opposite side of things. What about all the myriad tasks that lead up to writing and producing a story that represent most of the work that a reporter does? Where is the innovation that makes that work faster and easier?

Sun co-led a TechRaking session with Lyra McKee and Carrie Lozano about facilitating the reporting process with better tools. These are some of the websites, applications and tools that came out of that session.

1. NodeXL

This is a tool for finding connections between people (sources). An example use case would be if you were looking for common connections between board members and biggest donators across various organizations

2. LiveScribe

The smartpen that records audio and syncs it with your handwritten notes.

3. Wavii

This is an instant news feed for any topic, which is another way of easily following varoius issues.

4. Thirst.co

This yet-to-be-launched tool seeks to “transform how people interact and engage with social media.” It was brought up during the conference during a conversation about how to find sources in cities that you don’t usually cover.

5. PANDA Project

This IRE/NICAR projects is a newsroom data appliance that was brought up in multiple contexts: storing all reporter data and documents internally, storing all newsroom contacts in a central location, scraping data from external websites and automatically notifying people who should know.

6. Confluence

A tool for collaborative calendaring for groups of people, or a whole newsroom.

7. Trello

Group project planning tool .

8. Kaggle

This tool’s description from its website: “Kaggle is a platform for data prediction competitions that allows organizations to post their data and have it scrutinized by the world’s best data scientists.”

9. SuperDesk

This tool was made by journalists for journalists. It’s open software for managing newsrooms and content.

10. Mockingbird

A tool for easily and quickly making wireframe mockups.

11. Basalmiq

Another tool for rapid wireframing.

12. HighRise

Although it’s technically a CRM tool, The Sacramento Press uses it to manage “citizen contributors,” assign stories, pay contributors and manage story ideas/people.

13. Sprint.ly

A software development planning tool with GitHub integration — could also be used to experiment with the editorial workflow.

14. SpeakerText

A tool that works with the SoundCloud API and transcribes audio.

15. FileMaker Pro

A tool for managing sources and organizing files.


Any other tools you use to facilitate your reporting? Let us know in the comments.