How News Sites Are Using Maps

Adam DuVander
Nov. 30 2009, 03:06AM EST

Your local newspaper probably uses maps on its site. If it doesn't, it will soon. As newspapers look online for readership (and thus, revenue), they look for new ways to show information related to the places they cover.

The Online Journalism Blog has an excellent overview of maps on news sites, which is part of a book about online journalism. It argues maps offer a number of advantages including telling a story at a glance and updating with real-time information.

EveryBlock map

The most publicized way news sites have used maps is to show public data. The best example of that is EveryBlock, with a lineage going back to the award-winning Chicago Crime mashup (that site is now gone but details at our Chicago Crime profile). The EveryBlock founders like Adrian Holovaty were journalists and newspaper technologists looking to change how local news is reported.

If you want more examples of how this is happening, take a look at our mashup directory where we have 84 mashups combining maps + news.

Public data can also give a view of aggregated data, as well. The overview provides this example:

"In the UK the most significant mapping of public data has been around elections. The Telegraph election maps, for example, pull from a database to provide links to specific statistics and reports. The BBC, meanwhile, have provided maps that you could change based on your own prediction of the 'swing' a political party might experience."

There's more and more public data being made available now, such as the United States' Data.gov. And, as O'Reilly Radar noted when EveryBlock was acquired by MSNBC, data is journalism. And if journalism is local, maps are the best way to show location-based data.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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