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CPS Students Get Google Tools Eye Opening Training

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Google News Lab Trainer Victoria Reitano during her Google Tools presentation to CPS students at Marillac Terrace Photo by: Michael Rizzo, Assistant Professor and Director of Journalism Program
Friday, September 15, 2017

Students from the College of Professional Studies saw how Google Tools can help journalists find stories, check facts and mine data at a September 14 presentation on the St. John's Queens campus.

About 80 students filled the meeting space next to the Marillac cafeteria as Victoria Reitano, a certified Google News Lab trainer, used PowerPoint slides and videos in a two-hour presentation called Google Tools To Train for News Gathering and Storytelling.

Topics included how to use Google Advanced Search to do research, how Google Images can check if a photo has been altered and how Google Fusion Tables can consolidate and interpret data.

Reitano's demonstration was sponsored by CPS's Journalism Program.

As the Program Director, I began the night by mentioning the impact that technology is having in all facets of modern journalism. Journalism Adjunct Professor Sana Siwolop, who arranged for Reitano to speak, then told the group that journalists often rely on Google to help with story ideas. Students attending the event came from Journalism, Communication Arts, International Communication and TV and Film classes.

Reitano, who worked with the Today show and was a reporter in Huntington, NY for the Patch.com news website, now has her own marketing and social media firm, CreatiVix Media, and travels the country training professional journalists about the resources that Google can offer.

"Journalists need to work quickly," Reitano said. "All of these tools help them with research and help them get things right."

"I've used Fusion Tables and the results are impressive," Adjunct Journalism Professor Holli Haerr said. "But this has inspired me to learn more about Google Trends and Image Search."

Reitano even had students download the Google Street View app midway through the evening to take a selfie with the group and use it to connect to other people on the app sharing similar interests.

Reitano also spoke of how to make and post videos on YouTube.

She said video producers must have interesting content and quality work. She also reminded students to make their videos engaging with their audience. She said YouTube videos need to provide viewers with something that makes them pay attention, that makes them want to interact with something more on a website or encourages them to seek out more videos by the producer.

Reitano ended her appearance by taking questions from the students that went on for several minutes. I got in a question as well: what was her writing style as a reporter? 

"I try to lead with what struck me the most," Reitano said, "and then tell the most important facts that I gathered."

One student asked how Google training can be applied to classroom work. Reitano encouraged professors to give students photos and have them test their authenticity using Google Images. She also said students could be assigned to use Google Trends to see what web users are searching for and try to come up with original stories from those trends.

Professor Minna Aslama Horowitz sees the value of incorporating Reitano's suggestions.

"No matter what we do, we need research," Horowitz said. "I'm going to use these tools in my teaching and have my classes research more."

Students will likely be able to get more of Reitano as well. As the night ended, she said she'd be happy to return in future semesters to provide more training.