Matt Carroll

Old Dogs with New Tricks

By James Coomey

New technological advances have begun to bring innovation to journalism that will revolutionize how every day news is created.

This revolution has allowed groups like the MIT Media Lab to lead the way. The lab is focused on merging the ideas of science, media, and data analyses to create an arsenal of tools for journalists. Matt Carroll, a research scientist in the lab, has his own opinion on where the profession is going.

“Things are changing incredibly fast,” Carroll said, referring to the ever expanding array of tools available to a journalist. Carroll is a renowned data journalist whose work is portrayed in the movie “Spotlight”. His 27 years in journalism provides perspective on how the business has changed over time.

When asked about the future of journalism, Carroll had a word of warning;

“If it [a style] works now it might not work in a few years as other things are superseded by new tools and new techniques.”

Because of this rapid change in digital superiority, Carroll and his team have been creating intuitive programs to combine technology with writing.

One such program is “” which streamlines the writing proccess. The website allows writers to create sidebars with videos and pictures to support or explain the ideas mentioned in the story, with ease.

Though this program is highly intuitive to new users by design, some tools are not so obvious, leading other companies to educate users.

Google has become one of those educators. They partnered with Poynter Institute to train 10 professional journalists in the new “News Lab” tools late last summer.

One of those professionals was Boston University Professor of Journalism, Michelle Johnson.

“We are in this very cool transitional period” Johnson said when explaining the host of new journalism tools. “What they’re trying to do is make sure that we get the kind of training that is most useful for us and our professions,”

Some of the tools Google is creating are “Changing the way that we teach, or the way that we learn” Johnson said, making them quite revolutionary.

One such tool is “Google Trends,” a program that allows journalists to keep ahead of the public’s interest. The tool allows users to see what words or phrases are trending though an algorithm run through Google’s search engine. Through this, journalists can see what stories captivate, and what stories seem boring to the public.

With the tools coming out of places like Google and the MIT Media Lab, tomorrow’s journalists will find just how important these programs are to the craft.

In turn, with the ever expanding support that comes with these tools, like the teachings from professionals, journalists will adapt, and “More reporters will be comfortable doing data reporting,” as Matt Carroll predicted.

1 Comment Posted

  1. Nice insight into the current and future evolution of journalism. It’s amazing how quickly our world is changing and interesting to see how those that inform us are adapting. Thank you for this glimpse into ‘journalism and the digital age’.

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