In a polarized world, facts and data can provide valuable context for the debates swirling around us. And there has never been more data out there, with record numbers of data journalists working to make sense of it all. In fact, a study by the Google News Lab found that just over half of all newsrooms now have a dedicated data journalist.
Data journalism takes many forms, and it’s not always clear from the headline that there is potentially useful data within that document or story. The way that data is presented can vary as well, and though data tables are often the most useful format for data journalists, it isn’t always easy for Google Search to detect and understand tables of data to surface the most relevant results.
Based on feedback from 30 of the top data journalists in the world, we identified an opportunity to improve how tabular data appears in Google Search and in doing so make it easier for all people to find the data they’re looking for. It works like this: news organizations that publish data in the form of tables can add additional structured data to make the dataset parts of the page easier to identify for use in relevant Search features. One of the participants, ProPublica has been testing the structured data on its interactive databases (for example, on its Non-profits Explorer).
News organizations add the structured data to their existing html of a page, which means that news organizations can still control how their tables are presented to readers.
“As a news organization that is focused on having real-world impact, it’s very much in our mission to give people information at the point of need. If we can make the data we’ve worked hard to collect and prepare available to people at the very moment when they’re researching a big life decision, and thereby help them make the best decision they can, it’s an absolute no-brainer for us. And the code is trivial to add.” – Scott Klein, Deputy Managing Editor, ProPublica
If you’re part of a news organization, check out our developer documentation.