Saturday, September 24, 2016

How to incorporate 360-degree imagery into your stories, and why

How many times have you read a story where something happens at an address and you're like, "I have no idea where that is, but, OK, sure, guy, if you say so"?


When a less-than-familiar address is available, reporters generally use a mapping tool to get a general sense of where the story happened and/or to go there.

If the reporter is mapping the place to better understand the story, why aren't those maps added to the stories?

Reporters craft stories, and whatever tools the reporter used to help craft her story could be part of them.

It's easy!

Furthermore, I would argue that reporters already did the work, only that the work is not being added to the story.

Maps are one of the easiest multimedia features that can be added to stories, Maps can make a story go from "ok whatevs" to "OMG THAT PLACE!"

Put an address in your, uh, address bar, or simply google an address like, say, "79 Hurley Ave., Kingston" and Google will return a map. Click on the map image so the full map comes in and hit share on the left. That link (or embed) can be added to stories. If you click on the little yellow guy at bottom right, you can get the Streetview image, which in Google can be older, so you'd have to be careful if you want to embed those.

Enter "Streetview" app. With a smartphone, you can take a 360-degree image (it's easier with a tethered 360-degree camera but you can also do it from a phone) and upload it to Google Maps. The rest is the same as embedding a map.

Like this:

Any police story with an address, accidents where traffic is affected, etc, can be improved with this. Further, like in the image above, If you take your own Streetview images, you can go inside places or take current images, like restaurant or travel stories, for instance, or anything that could benefit from a 'virtual tour.' We've been playing with some of these for a while, and I'm planning to start implementing these to the general workflow, whenever they help and whenever it makes sense to use them.

TL;DR: If you googled an address when working on a story, your readers would also like to know. Add that map to your story by hitting share on the map and adding the link or embedding the map, in 360-degrees when appropriate.

But you tell me, what kinds of stories can immediately benefit from a 360-degree image?

Extra: There's a way to add 360-degree images natively, but I'm focusing on Streetview here because it's extremely easy that way. The other way looks like this: