In our first series, we’ll take a look at a few projects from the Knight Lab, so you can create more visually catching and interactive multi-media projects.
Tool: Timeline JS
Needed Tech Level: Novice
Timeline JS is an easy and useful tool to help tell stories with a confusing or packed chronology. A reporter introduced me to the platform when covering an incident on widespread cheating at Dartmouth College, and it was useful in explaining the lengthy and complex stages of disciplinary action.
What is it
With Timeline JS, everything is streamlined through a Google Spreadsheet, so you don’t have to know any code. You just add links to Tweets, photos, videos, Google Maps and sound to the spreadsheet, and the system does the rest. It even provides an embed code so the timeline can be hosted on your website.
The long set of instructions can make Timeline JS look intimidating, it’s basic Google spreadsheet template doesn’t provide the level of customization that some more advanced coding can provide, and its support features are limited. But it’s streamlined process makes it easy to pick up and is a great tool for journalists who don’t have the time or coding knowledge to craft an entirely new website for their story, all without downloading or purchasing new software.
Timeline JS can also be useful for lighter stories on changes over time, like this history of hats, or stories that show the progression of events over time, such as the Arizona Daily Star’s coverage of six-year-old Isabel Celis’ disappearance.