Some REALLY cool news maps

National Geographic
Not surprisingly, National Geographic does an amazing job of using Google Earth to tell compelling stories and get more mileage out of its articles, photos, and other content.

Yesterday I went on a major learning/exploration binge online. I love days like that, when the information and connections all seem to be flowing. Anyway, thanks to my community here on Contentious, as well as E-Media Tidbits, Twitter, and the members-only discussion list of the Society of Environmental Journalists, I learned a ton about the journalistic and news uses of interactive maps.

This was all prep for an interview that will happen shortly. Adena Shutzberg will be interviewing me for the Directions on the News podcast. So in prep for that interview, here are several links to cool news maps that were recommended to me, and notes about why they’re cool…

Malaria Map. Adena told me she plans to discuss the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP) mentioned in this Feb 25 Reuters story. The MAP map (love that!) is a Google Earth kmz file. Here’s an animation of what it looks like.

Of all the maps with news or journalistic value that were recommended to me yesterday, these made the greatest impression…

  • Elephant Wars, a multimedia-laden Google Earth map (kmz file) from National Geographic. Great example of how to connect an interactive map with several kinds of storytelling. Includes automated tours to guide you through the data to tell different stories, and timeline animations. It all connects back to a series of National Geographic articles. (Thanks to Poynter’s Ellyn Angelotti for the tip.)
  • Bakersfield.com Maps. This news org site has gotten pretty creative with using fairly simple Google maps to connect with the community. My faves: Bakersfield Quirks, Bakersfield’s Future Highways, and Pete Tittl’s Restaurant Picks (Thanks to the Bakersfield Californian’s Matylda Czarnecka for the tip.)
  • TribTowns, from the Salt lake Tribune. Josh Awtry explained what’s going on here: “This experiment is going quite well. It’s an effort to geolocate all news, sports and entertainment that isn’t broad or issue-based on a map of our coverage area. In a perfect world, it would replace our microzoned print editions. Until we get perfect buy-in, it isn’t ready for the big leagues, but the experience in the newsroom has gone quite well so far.”
  • Katrina maps, from the New Orleans Times Picayune. My SEJ friend Mark Scheifstein, longtime environmental reporter for that paper, told me about these: “We published an interactive graphic accompanying our March 2007 series ‘Last Chance’ about coastal erosion. Also, a year after Katrina, we published an interactive map showing how the rebuilding effort was going. At that same time, we published another interactive map showing how the city actually flooded during Katrina.

I have lots more examples that I’ll post later, but these will do for a start. Rest assured, I went “Wow!” over almost every news map I encountered. There’s so much more I should be covering in this field. Stay tuned.

My only complaint: I’d love to see mobile and widget (site and desktop versions) wherever possible for news maps. I’m seeing virtually none of that so far.

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