Mapping as a journalism tool

As we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, it’s no secret that journalism is changing drastically. With the internet playing a major role in how, and when, consumers get their news, newspapers, magazines and even tabloids are being forced to change the way they report the news.

Part of that change means incorporating visuals into our reporting, whether that be images, video, audio or in many cases, maps. Especially in the political relm, maps can play a huge role in helping readers understand stories.

In class this week, we took a look at some of the maps featured on websites today. My favorite was a set of maps reflecting the 2008 election results. As you can see, the creator plotted the electoral and popular votes on the maps. He then manipulated the maps based on population – showing readers that even though in traditional maps, most of the country looks like it voted Republican, in fact the majority of the population voted Democrat. The great thing about these maps is how unique they are, and the way they put a different spin on journalism mapping.

To me, maps like this one, put together by the AP, are virtually useless, and demonstrate the wrong way to use maps in journalism. Having a visual of where each story the AP is covering is based does absolutely nothing for me – if the location of the story is important, it should be well represented in the article.

Utilizing a map the way the Boston Globe did in plotting different Farmers Market locations, however, is incredibly useful. Being able to pull up a map and see where exactly the Farmers Markets are, getting directions and reading about each location is practical, helpful and a great way to include a visual in the story.

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March 26, 2010. Tags: , . Class Posts.

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