By Adam Coleman

NASHVILLE — Mike Reilley wants to experiment.

He showed journalists at the 2018 Associated Press Sports Editors summer conference how to do so using all of Google’s free tools that help newsroom staffs build interactive charts, visualizations and maps to accompany stories.

From Google Trends to MyMaps, Google Earth Pro and the Earth Engine Timelapse, Reilley wants journalists excited to try something new.

“The biggest thing I look for in these trainings is experimentation,” said Reilley, who is a digital trainer with the Society of Professional Journalists. “Will they take the tool, find a way to apply it to a story? Really it’s more finding a great story and then selecting the right Google tool or whatever tool on the web that best tells it.”

Reilley said once journalists master that, the possibilities are endless, especially in sports.

It could be data scraping, which is the ability to pull data off the web to get into a working format, such as a spreadsheet. Reilley said puling data and finding a story within it is a key attribute editors look for from journalists today. This tool helps in that regard, helping writers localize national rankings, for example.

Google Trends brings writers directly to what readers in their coverage area or nationally are talking about in real time. Journalists can then act accordingly.

Earth Pro was one of the stars of the presentation. It brings interactive maps to life. Reilley showed the different ways it could be used from The Courier-Journal’s tour of the toughest golf holes in Louisville to simply making movies out of stadium tours.

Reilley is particularly fond of the Google fusion tables – which directly deals with data management and data visualization – and mapping tools.

Perhaps the best caveat from Reilley’s presentation is these tools don’t always have to be used to accompany stories or print products. Google tools can build stand-alone visual projects that still engage readers.

“The visual parts of it can amplify both the written portion or it can stand alone now,” Reilley said. “Multimedia, I think because it’s become so much easier to use with the software, also enables you to do stand-alone storytelling.”

Contact Mike Reilly at mikereilley1@gmail.com

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