|Even a very simple interactive map can tell a powerful news story.|
Tomorrow I’m being interviewed by Adena Schutzberg for the Directions on the News podcast, which I’ve mentioned before on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits. We’ll discuss some of our favorite news maps and why they’re cool, engaging, and useful.
I need your help: What are some of your favorite recent online news maps? These could be produced by news orgs, or simply offer news value. Also, which online news maps have you created that you’re particularly proud of? Please comment below with your examples and links. I’m sure that collectively Contentious readers have seen many more cool news maps than I have.
I tend to be more intrigued by simple maps using simple tools that offer real insight or value — maps that almost anyone could put together with a few basic tools and skills. Here are a few examples I’m considering discussing…
AP News + Google Maps, by Michael Young of NY Times R&D. It’s a pretty simple affair, relies on a few basic tools, and is a few years old — but I continue to like it because I think it represents something any news org can and should be doing. It updates automatically, thus maintaining its daily relevance with little or no labor. And wouldn’t this kind of map make a great site or dashboard widget? More about this map. (For context, Reuter’s news map is more comprehensive, but clunkier and uglier IMHO.)
American Diaspora, 2005, by ePodunk.com — a site that provides town-specific statistics and information. This map tells a powerful story at a glance. It uses radial lines to not only show where Katrina survivors fled to or resettled, but to give the visual impression of hasty migration. ePodunk explains: “We analyzed more than 40,000 messages posted on …Web ‘safe lists,’ including those maintained by CNN, Craigslist and MSNBC, and recorded data from every message in which the poster included his hometown and a city and state where he had found refuge. An advantage of compiling data this way, rather than through official reports from agencies such as FEMA, is that these reports include not only people who were in shelters, but also those who were able to leave on their own, before and after the hurricane.” The pins on the map link to ePodunk’s page about the corresponding town. A simple but very compelling presentation that tells a strong news story.
…Of course, both maps could be taken much further with current technologies. Think Adobe AIR, Flash, widgets, mobile versions.
Another map I’m considering discussing is the Flickr searchable photo map. Often when I hear about a place I haven’t been to or heard of before, I like to hop over to this map to see what people who have been there found interesting enough to photograph and share. Seems to me that news orgs and citizen journalists could be making better use of this rich resource — especially since many Flickr users apply Creative Commons licenses to their images.
…Anyway, those are my picks so far. Again, please comment below with your recommendations — and they don’t need to be as simple as mine!