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Knight Lab Releases New Open Source Tool for Multimedia Timelines

posted 26 Mar 2012, 08:37 by Mpelembe   [ updated 26 Mar 2012, 08:37 ]

EVANSTON, Ill., Mar 26, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- Recognizing a need to help journalists more easily tell multimedia stories, the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University has released a new tool to create great-looking digital timelines quickly and easily.

The tool, available at, enables creation of timelines with an input as simple as using a Google Spreadsheet and can pull from a variety of sources, including Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Maps and SoundCloud.

"Timeline helps journalists tell compelling stories," said Zach Wise, an associate professor of journalism at Northwestern University who developed Timeline. "Timelines add significant depth to a story, giving each event context, continuity and rich media can really help pull the viewer in."

Content producers only need to be comfortable using a Google spreadsheet to enter dates, headlines, captions, and links to media in to the spreadsheet and Timeline does the rest. The tool renders the timeline entirely in the browser and is easy to embed with just a few lines of Javascript on a web site's page.

Timeline is available without charge. It is hosted on GitHub and developers are encouraged to contribute to the project and provide feedback.

Timelines are particularly effective devices to tell stories that require deep background to understand. Wise, who was previously an award-winning producer at The New York Times and contributed to a Pulitzer Prize-winning project while at the Las Vegas Sun, offers these tips for creating compelling timelines:

          --  Keep it short, and write each event as a part of a larger narrative.
          --  Pick stories that have a strong chronological narrative.
          --  Include events that build up to major occurrences. Not just the major
 Examples of Open Timeline in use can be found here.

Timeline was developed as a project of the Knight News Innovation Lab, which is a joint project between the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Northwestern University.

About the Knight News Innovation Lab

Established in 2011 with a $4.2 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Knight News Innovation Lab is a joint initiative of Northwestern University's Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The Lab's mission is to accelerate the transformation of the way news is discovered, analyzed, presented and delivered by introducing smart and practical technology innovation. In partnerships built across the Chicagoland region -- from neighborhood bloggers to large media companies -- the Lab invents, improves and distributes technology that helps build and sustain a better informed citizenry and a more innovative publishing environment.

About Medill

Medill was founded in 1921 and offers programs in journalism and integrated marketing communications. It teaches new techniques essential in today's digital world. Medill is leading the way in training a new generation of multimedia journalists and integrated marketing communications professionals. The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University is named after Joseph Medill, a newspaper man and former Mayor of Chicago.

For more information: Ryan Graff (847) 467-3576

Michael Dizon (847) 467-2961

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SOURCE: Medill Northwestern University ,c9236082

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