The Toolbox: 16 New Ways for Story-making

At Mozfest a few weeks ago, Sarah Marshall of gave a great presentation of tools and apps journalists should know about (all of them are free and many of them are open source). What follows in this post is adapted from her presentation…

Editors note: some summaries are taken from Wikipedia.

Storytelling Tools


Creating a story through social media on Storify

1. Storify

Storify is a social network service that lets the user create stories or timelines using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The main purpose of Storify is to allow users to create stories by importing content from various forms of media into a timeline. Users can also embed their own Storify stories elsewhere on the internet.

Screen shot 2013-11-08 at 11.59.01

A Datawrapper chart

2. Datawrapper

Datawrapper is an open source website to create simple charts through data that can easily be embedded online. You can customize it to fit best within your website.

3. ThingLink + mobile app

A way to embed information into photographs via interactive links – video, sound, text, other images – as a way to tell an interactive visual story. It can then be embedded online to a website and shared.

4. TimelineJS

TimelineJS is an open-source tool that enables you to build visually-rich interactive timelines and is available in 40 languages – an opensource tool from the Knight Lab.

A history of hats, via TimelineJS.

A history of hats, via TimelineJS.


Search Tools

for social networks:


5. Storyful MultiSearch (Chrome)

Storyful allows you to  quickly and efficiently search multiple social networks. It opens multiple tabs across selected social networks (Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram and Spokeo) with preset filters to get image, video and text results.

6. FollowerWonk

FollowerWonk is a Mozilla app designed for efficient searching on Twitter- unlike the available search function on Twitter, FollowerWonk searches bios, and helps you to analyse and compare twitter accounts.

7. Topsy

Topsy also a search engine for social networks, helping you to analyse trends over time. You can also search multiple keywords to get a sense of relationships over time across social media.

Searching keywords on Topsy for a graphic representation of their relationship on social media.

Searching keywords on Topsy for a graphic representation of their relationship on social media.

for images:

8. TinEye

TinEye is a “reverse image search,” allowing you to find more pictures like the one you've already got. Search options include: “newest”, “best match” and “most changed”… You can use the search engine to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions.


for everything else:

9. IFTTT  

If This Then That allows you to connect different web applications (73 options include Facebook, the weather, RSS feeds, instagram, email, twitter…) to help you make a “recipe” (i.e. search) and to perform an “action” (i.e. be alerted to information). For example, IF “I'm tagged in a photo on Facebook” THEN “send me an SMS”… or, IF “it will rain tomorrow” THEN “send me an email.” Sarah Marshall also wrote a post with a few more journalist-y suggestions.

Apps for mobile journalism

Sarah also suggests several mobile journalism apps:

For all devices: 

10. Bambuser – allows you to capture, share and watch live video broadcast from mobile phones or computers.

For Android/ Apple /Windows

11. Vyclone - is a social video platform that lets you co-create, sync and edit multiple views of a shared moment, so, creating one video from multiple users’ content.

For Android only

12. StoryMaker - is an open-source app available that enables both professional and citizen journalists to produce and publish professional-grade video, photo, and audio content via Android mobile phones, as safely and securely as possible. (A partner project of Global Voices, read more on the RV blog)

For Apple only

13. Videolicious - combines your video clips, photos, and sound into a professional-looking video.

14. Viz – lets you create simple charts via your mobile device.

15. iSaidWhat - lets you record, edit, and share audio quickly to social media and email.

16. Voddio – is the latest generation of our products that allow you to record, edit and send your Audio and Video from your device to a website, or email with Voddio's media transfer service – made to deal with changes made in iOS7.

Sarah also has several lists of tools for journalists for searching and newsgathering available online. Icon from Flickr under a creative commons license by Ktow.

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