Robin Good Enhanced: Top Journalism Tools

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Robin Good
Robin Good

This is a great curated collection of tools for journalists hand-picked by top communication and publishing professionals.

Phi Beta Iota: This is so useful we have extracted all tools from all journalists and list and link them below the line. Categories include Cartography/Geospatial, Google Apps, Research, Smart Phone Apps, Twitter Apps, Workspace I – Apps, Code, Visualization, Workspace II – Storage & Substance.

Top Useful Tools for Communication Professionals: An Experts Mini-Catalog

Phi Beta Iota: We have resorted all of these from Most Useful, Most Innovative, Hidden Gem to functionally-oriented categories.

Cartography / Geospatial

CartoDB: Easy web mapping tool. You don’t need any code and it is super lightweight to use, in comparison to other GIS-tools. LocalFocus: Created it w/ my Company, no code needed, easy to share w/ colleagues, export instantly in your own style + SVG export for print.

CartoDB: Because you can quickly visualize data, not necessarily to publish but rather to understand, probe.

Echosec: Location based meta-data in digital publications allow you to search physical regions for messages, images, videos and more.

Google Apps

Google Docs: Being able to edit documents in real time makes collaboration and remote working viable. It makes working in large teams on large data sets possible and has even functioned as a mini CMS for us at times.

Google Keyword Planner: When I have an idea for a new blog post, I use Google Keyword Planner to research for a focused topic, to decide what keywords to include in the copy, and to track its performance with Google Analytics.

Search social networks with Google by using, for example alongside your search term. Fine tune the search with other syntax like intitle: followed by words that must be in the title of the social network page. Use OR. To add other site: options to the search.

You can use Google’s search by image feature to search for profile pics etc. Then modify the search with normal Google syntax like to focus the results.


A reference librarian — a vanishing breed who is and will always be an investigative journalist’s best friend.

Dataminr: Huge data force and just the beginning of a totally new way of getting notified about breaking news.

Digg Reader: It’s the simplest of the Google Reader replacements, but it allows me to keep on top of the feeds I still want to consume in that way.

HDX: the Humanitarian Data Exchange, is fascinating and has great potential.

Instapaper: The most readable and seamless “read later” tool.

Investigative Dashboard: A global database of business registries, allowing journalists to track hidden money and assets around the world.

Journalist’s Resource: A terrific, probably underknown, resource. Based at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics & Public Policy, the site looks at news topics through a scholarly lens.

Journalist’s Toolbox: Thousands of links and resources for journalists. I curate the site.

Medium: Underused and too little known in Europe.

Mr. Data Converter: Convert your Excel data into one of several web-friendly formats, including HTML, JSON and XML.

Newsletters making a bit of resurgence. Of particular use to me are the round-ups by Jason Hirschhorn, Pew’s Journalism Project and NextDraft. The Quartz daily brief is also excellent.

Pinboard: Fast and no-nonsense bookmarking.

Prismatic: Good tool to find resources and stories on many topics, but especially on journalism and storytelling. Easy way to share stories through Twitter and Buffer.

Spidering tools like Intellitamper scan websites for links you may have missed.

Tabula: Get data out of pdf files.

The New York Times. (provided without comments)

The Wayback Machine: Here’s an innovation that revolutionized online research. Lets reporters retrieve the digital past that others, through malintent or neglect have destroyed.

Timeline: News in context. Very nice layout, in-depth stories on current affairs in historic perspective.

tldrify: This tool creates a short link to any text on the Internet. You can highlight a key line in a blog post, use the Chrome Extension to create a short url + pre-drafted tweet to share the quote.

To investigate: Graph commons

Use /* in to filter queries.

Wolfram Alpha: Because it is an extraordinary resource and fantastic computing engine

Smart Phone Apps

A few accessories will improve a smartphone noticeably so the content looks and sounds more professional.
So: get a light, a tripod and a microphone – and pretty soon, what you record will look much better.

Camera+ and Snapseed are great apps for getting Photoshop-worthy results from an iPhone.

Camera App of Choice: FilMicPro. It offers camera control and functionality way beyond the stock iOS Video Camera including Focus/Exposure/White Balance Lock and lots of other features.

For professional results the IKMultimedia iRig Pro is a great option. It allows you to set a microphone input gain level and also provide +48v Phantom power if required.

iBlazr: For its size and price, I’ve been really impressed with the iBlazr. It’s very small but gives off a really powerful light, ideal to boost what a smartphone can do on its own in low light.

If you are a radio reporter then you may not realise you can use your Zoom H5/H6 recorder as a live audio mixer for 2 mics and connect it to your iPhone/iPad via Apple Lightning to USB adapter.

iRig Pro pre-amp: This pro-quality mic preamp/converter allows professional microphones to seamlessly connect with smartphones, tablets and laptops. Audio quality is what separates amateur from professional productions.

Jamsnap: Tough one. Jamsnap as an app. Great opportunities for photos, audio. Cartodb’s animated torque maps are great, too. And the searchable map templates at

Mobile apps for reporting, audio & video – a whole studio on your smartphone.

PagerDuty which we are exploring not just for IT ops but for editorial shift communication.

Shoulderpod S1: Universal smartphone camera mount that securely holds your phone and enables professional picture-taking and filmmaking.

Slack: Reduce work email by 80%.

Slack: It has truly changed the way we work. Everyone on the team is more informed, more engaged and up to date. We have less emails to deal with and feel less bound to our desks.

Twitter Apps

Nuzzel is great for surfacing news recommendations from people you follow on Twitter. I’ve also recently started experimenting with INK361 as a way to manage Instagram.

Topsy: An old fashioned tool, but I like the simple functionality in terms of following hashtags and engagement with posts I’ve written.

Topsy is my go to tool for Twitter search. The graphs and being able to reverse order search are very useful.

Tweetdeck: Because it allows me to monitor the real-time stream of exchanges.

I’d be lost without Tweetdeck to keep an eye on Twitter lists. Tweetlogix is a good Tweetdeck substitute for iOS. I also still use Feedly to monitor and organise RSS feeds. It works as a safety net to ensure I don’t miss anything important.

Twitshot: It’s makes sharing an article to Twitter with an image super-simple and really quick to do. It even helps you crop the image pulled from the article page to be the optimal size for Twitter.

Twitter: Because I can connect with sources and peers around the world.

Twitter: No journalist can do without it.

Twitter lists. Not enough people use them and few use them well. But they can really help get useful information to you at speed.

Workspace I (Apps, Code, Visualization)

Awesome Screenshot and Diigo – it acts as toolbar for your browser.

Blockspring: Not the best viztool, but it creates interactive scatterplots in seconds. (The only tool who is able to do that, as far as I know.)

Canva: I use it a lot to create free images that go with social media postings.

D3.js: Changed the world of online data visualisation completely. Build data, spot relationships, collaborate with others.

Embedresponsively: Not a day goes by that I don’t use it.

Exif Viewer: Best way to readout meta data from data sets.

Facebook Graph because it combines 100.000+ personal details. (Henk is currently working on Graph Tips an experimental search engine for Facebook Graph.)

Gephi: Because it allows in-depth analysis of social relationships.

Keyword Researcher: I use it a lot to identify long-tail keywords to target for new blog posts.

Knight lab at Northwestern University because of the user-friendly and open-source nature of the tools.

Open Refine: Cleaning, scraping, converting, combining, APIs. Always comes in handy.

Open Refine: Very powerful, for cleaning data, quick analyses and format conversion.

Quip: Better than Google Docs.

RAW: Makes it easy to create super complex – normally code based – data visulaizations which then can be used as a starting point for print.

Snapseed: For me it is a little gem. Just because you can edit a photo by touch … it is a gift.

Stack Overflow: A question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers. It’s 100% free, no registration required.


Storehouse: Easy to compile and share multimedia stories fast.

Storehouse App: Enables Immersive longform, interactive multimedia stories to be made easily by reporters in the field. Video, photo & text can be added and edited smartly. Extraordinary tool.

Thinglink: Allows you to communicate layers of information in multimedia format, great for use on mobile devices.

VRSE: App to push the boundaries on virtual reality in journalism. Opportunity for storytellers and filmmakers to develop virtual reality content and explore new ways of storytelling.

Video to GIF: A tool that lets you quickly make a GIF from a streaming video. Simple to use, great results.

Workspace II (Storage & Substance)

Creatavist: I love slow journalism and Creatavist presentations are very stylish, yet can be very deep content. I believe there are tools focused on different journalistic genres. Creatavist is one. Perfect for multimedia interview and reports.

Dropbox: I can write stories from my computer, tablet or smartphone, completely synchronized. I love it, especially when I travel. It is a relief to know that there is always a copy.

Evernote: I use it on all my devices to keep notes about travel, work, and leisure pursuits.

Immersive: A product designed to help individual storytellers create and publish stories online.

MixMax: An awesome Gmail add-on that lets you compose emails with surveys, polls, calender availability, article previews, in a slick and beautiful way.

Plague: Using the UX of dating apps for content = simple but effective

Trello: A great way to get organized.

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