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Google News Lab partners with ASU to further journalistic development

ASU is the pilot school for the Google News Lab's News Lab University Network

Nicholas Whitaker, training and development manager at Google News Lab, speaks at the Must See Monday series at the Cronkite School on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016.

Nicholas Whitaker, training and development manager at Google News Lab, speaks at the Must See Monday series at the Cronkite School on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016.

Increasing accessibility and interactivity, Google News Lab has paired with ASU to begin a networking partnership that takes the feedback from students and faculty to improve their news delivery.

Nicolas Whitaker, the training and development manager at Google News Lab, began the initiative of the "news lab university network," as he put it. The network is still in its beginning stages with the end goal to have open communication between Google and several universities to receive feedback on their training and tools, Whitaker said.

ASU was the pilot school for the network, an initiative brought about by Whitaker, Kevin Dale, the executive editor of Cronkite News, and Eric Newton, the innovation chief at the Cronkite School.

Dale's experience with the news lab began when Google reached out to him during his tenure at the Denver Post. Newton said that Dale encouraged him to reach out to the Google News Lab to inquire about possible partnerships. The two agreed to pitch ASU as the pilot school for the news lab network. 

Google has already started working with Cronkite News, said Rebecca Blatt, the director of the Cronkite News Digital Production Bureau. 

Blatt said that they have used Google tools such as 360-degree photography with Google Earth Pro, allowing the user to track 3D movement from one place to another. 

“This partnership allows us to deepen training for both faculty and students, but also to just inspire students and faculty to think broadly about how we can be using these tools,” she said.

As the pilot school for this initiative, students and faculty at the Cronkite School use Google training and provide the company with feedback. 

“We are just going to continue to offer our opinions about good ways to package this kind of skill training, and they’re going to keep rolling out new lessons and tools," Newton said. 

Google News Lab has also partnered with the Society of Professional Journalists to release trainings for journalists on Google’s multimedia tools, free of charge.

With 45 lessons in 13 languages, the News Lab has continued to grow.

Whitaker said that Google plans to continue the network beyond ASU, with the goal of pulling in 20 to 30 universities from around the world in the near future.

“Anybody that’s interested in tapping into the capabilities and providing feedback and input are the people who we are most interested in working with, not just hard journalism schools,” said Whitaker.

Journalism students should seek “inspiration, (new) pathways to learning and highlights of the fact that there are resources and tools available that you can take advantage of for free today without spending an enormous amount of time or energy or money in order to get there," Whitaker said. 

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