Google launches News Lab to help journalists, boost its own publishing cred

Platforms these days have a touch of publisher-envy. Every day it seems there is a new overture by platforms — from Snapchat to Facebook — to encourage publishers to distribute their content directly on their apps. Now they want a hand in shaping that content, too.

Google launched yesterday News Lab, a new portal to help reporters sift through its suite of tools and apps to help better their shape their stories.

The idea of News Lab is to show journalists how Google products can be used in all stages of their reporting, from research to promotion. For example, there are online tutorials ranging from how to verifying the authenticity of photos on Google Images to adding metadata on YouTube so videos are more easily discovered.

The site also shows off its partnerships it has developed with startups like Medium-owned Matter and Hacks/Hackers. Google-owned YouTube’s Newswire, a new tool that verifies user uploaded video of breaking news, and the recently relaunched Google Trends are also featured prominently.

In a blog post explaining it, Google says it created News Lab to “collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to help build the future of media.” Perhaps what’s most beneficial to scatterbrained journalists is that it serves as a one-stop destination for Google’s suite of tools.

Google isn’t alone in developing splashy services to boost its publishing cred. Earlier this month Apple announced a new mobile news-reading product, News, with dozens of big media partners including The New York Times, Condé Nast and ESPN. Just last month, Facebook launched a similar product, Instant Articles, with nine news publishers including the Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic.

Last week Twitter announced that its forthcoming Project Lightning feature will curate the best news on the social network. Twitter also launched a tool in March called Curator that filters tweets and houses them on a dashboard. Last year, Facebook debuted Newswire powered by user generated verification service Storyful to help newsrooms “find, share and embed newsworthy content” from the social network.

In short, platforms don’t want to just be in the news — they want a bigger hand in publishing it, too.

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