ISOJ workshop shares how Google tools can aid reporters’ information collection and verification

  • By Flora Farr
  • April 13, 2024

During a lunchtime workshop at the 25th International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ), two representatives from Google News Initiative provided training in reporting and fact-checking tools from Google meant for journalists and researchers.

Led by Google news partner manager Ashley Edwards and U.S. teaching fellow Mary Nahorniak, the workshop focused on how to take advantage of the tools available in Google’s Fact Check Explorer and Pinpoint.

Two women at podium

New Google tools for reporting and fact-checking with Ashley Edwards, News Partner Manager, Associations and Local Partners, Google and Mary Nahorniak, U.S. Teaching Fellow, Google News Initiative. (Patricia Lim/Knight Center)

With an ice-breaking game of guessing the real versus the AI-generated photos on the screen, Edwards took the lead discussing how Fact Check Explorer can verify the authenticity of trending information and photos. Fact Check Explorer can be used like reverse image searching as it allows users to input image URLs and image uploads to receive information on the history of the image. A recent update to the program also allows users to see an estimate of how old the image is based on any previous use of the image on the internet that Google can track.

“This is meant to be easy for anyone to find out more about an image, particularly in an election year,” Nahorniak said. “(There’s) lots of global elections this year, lots of myths and disinformation.”

Nahorniak and Edwards also shared that Fact Check Explorer allows users to search for trending information and receive results on whether that trending information has been verified or if it's false. Additionally, while Fact Check Explorer is available to the public, users must apply for access for their image contexts feature which provides a further history debrief on your image searches.

Nahorniak took the lead discussing the uses of another Google tool exclusive to applicants who are journalists and researchers: Pinpoint. She said Pinpoint is a free tool with 2g storage space for document uploading. Nahorniak demonstrated how,  with Google AI technology, by uploading written documents, tables or audio and videos for transcription, Pinpoint will organize information from documents by key terms so that users can simply use a Google search tool in each document to find how frequently terms come up without taking a long time to go through data.

“(Pinpoint handles) things that take a lot of time— data entry, extracting data off files— so that you can then use your time to do things that only you can do—- developing the story, interviewing folks, new sources, whatever it may be,” Nahorniak said.

Nahorniak added that Pinpoint is private by default like Google Drive. She also said the program can structure tables to make information easier to read, and Pinpoint can summarize documents for users when asked in a chat sidebar.

Overall, Nahorniak and Edwards left workshop-goers with encouragement to use Google’s News Initiative tools and encouragement to help make them better.

“If you start using (the program) please leave feedback,” Nahorniak said. “Key features that have been built were based on feedback we’ve gotten from the tool.”

ISOJ is a global online journalism conference organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2024, it is celebrating 25 years of bringing together journalists, media executives and scholars to discuss the impact of the digital revolution on journalism.

*Flora Farr is a first year journalism student at UT Austin. She is currently a Life & Arts senior reporter for The Daily Texan and previously interned for The San Antonio Report.