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Detroit Free-Press uses Intersect to map and document Asian carp journey

This week a team at Detroit Free-Press continued 13-day, seven-state trek through the midwest to investigate the effects of Asian carp — an invasive fish species whose rate of reproduction and large size make it a threat to the ecosystem of the Great Lakes.

Intersect, the online storytelling tool used by the Free-Press to document the journey, allows users to map videos, photos and text at particular times and locations and see how they “intersect” with other people’s stories from the same time and place. The project so far contains 10 days’ worth of blog posts and photos, all nicely plotted on an Intersect-generated map and timeline, which is embedded alongside a straight, static list of headlines.  Read more

4 Ways to use UMapper to create online maps

UMapper is a freemium tool for building embeddable online maps and is a favorite among tech-savvy journos. Its unique features make it stand apart from similar mapping tools and its flexibility means it likely has the right function to suit your mapping needs. Here’s some examples of what UMapper can do:

Create a quick embeddable map

UMapper makes it easy and fast to create a map that contains any number of points or markers. You can add text, images, audio, and more to your markers, and add lines and shapes to your map just by clicking on the map and entering some information. You can also batch upload data for multiple markers using UMapper.

Create a Twitter map

UMapper can be used to create a map that displays the latest tweets that contain a selected hashtag or keywords. To do this, create a new map and select the “Twitter search” template found under the Templates tab. Then, in the title of your map, write your headline, followed by a colon, then your search operator. For example, a map with the title “Hawaii: tsunami” and centered on the state would result in the map below.

Create a Map quiz

To mark the recent visit to the U.S. by Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Washington Post created a map that asked people to identify famous Chinese landmarks and locations of recent events. The map was created with UMapper using its “GeoDart Game” template. For instructions on how to create your own, click here.

Display the latest weather

Most major news sites have some sort of weather page or feature, but for those of us who quickly want to show off the weather in any part of the world, UMapper has us covered. Just select “Weather Map” under the Templates tab and center your map on the location you want to display. The resulting map looks like the one below.

For more information on UMapper and its features, visit

7 Innovative online maps

The technology that is paired with online maps is constantly improving, which means the ways media organizations are using them have become more diverse. Check out a few online maps that are furthering what’s possible with map mashups.


Ratio Finder

This eye-catchingly designed map analyzes Foursquare check-ins and visualizes them by gender. Visitors can use the site to compare where male and female users check in and what type of businesses they are most likely to check in to. The site is available for San Francisco and New York.

This site allows the visitor to compare the standard of living in the United States to pretty much any other country around the world and see how they differ. For example, If Germany were your home instead of the U.S., you would statistically consume less oil, have fewer babies, and have lots more free time, according to the site. Each page includes a map that shows a scale image of the country overlaid on top of a map of the United States.


Home and Away: Iraq and Afghanistan Casualties

Behind CNN’s flashy interactive map is a sobering message: the large number of casualties in the two war-torn countries. The dual maps and accompanying charts show data like the hometowns of the deceased, where they were killed, and when.


Products of Slavery

This map of the locations where child labor happens around the world presents a complex issue in a way that is very simple and easy to understand. Site visitors can view the top 25 countries where products are made with child labor and also toggle between the map view and several graph views.



Much like the homicide databases produced by the Los Angeles Times and Stamen Design (here and here), MurderMap aims to visualize homicides in London. Visitors can toggle the map by murder weapon and click each marker to view more information about the victim.


Mapping America: Every City, Every Block

This New York Times map that displays census data on race in America is most notable for showing just how many neighborhoods are clearly divided by race. For example, Manhattan’s 95th street has mostly White residents on one side and Black and Hispanic residents on the other. Los Angeles’ Santa Monica Boulevard creates a similar divide — a large percentage of residents who live north of the avenue are White, while the majority of those who live south of the street are Hispanic, as evidenced by the colored dots.


What’s in a Surname?

National Geographic elevates the word cloud with this map that shows popular surnames by location. “Smith” is a popular last name in most of the country — especially in the eastern United States — while Garcia and Hernandez are popular in the West and Southwest, according to the map.

How technology is changing travel and journalism

Traveling just got a bit more awesome thanks to new technology and tools.

Foursquare and Gowalla have made a big splash when it comes to location-based information and Yelp has revolutionized real-life travel with its online and mobile offerings, but there is even more innovation on the horizon when it comes to travel and journalism. Here are some of the latest offerings that are making the world just a bit smaller.

When it comes to travel do you have Italian tastes but a Branson budget? Thanks to interactive panoramas you can visit exotic locales around the world without leaving your home or office. For example, check out this 360° view of London or this immersive interactive of the Sistine Chapel.

Creating interactive panoramas used to mean trotting out pricey equipment, but now you can create with them with the internal controls built into newer DSLR cameras or using photo stitching software. You can also use mobile apps like the recently released 360 Panorama, available from the iTunes store for 99 cents.

If you’re more interested in fine art than the locales that contain them, you can view artwork up close and personal via similar technology. Halta Definizione allows you to view famous works like DaVinci’s The Last Supper or Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus in an interactive environment that allows you to zoom in to the tiniest detail.

A similar effect can be created using tools like which lets anybody embed high-resolution images that have similar zoom and pan controls.

Reinventing the travel experience isn’t limited to fine art: a new crop of apps and websites let you view the history all around you. The Museum of London’s Streetmuseum app pins historic photos onto the real life locations where they were taken. The app uses augmented reality to layer the photos on top of the image seen through the iPhone camera.

Historypin is taking a similar approach by inviting users to add historic photos to an interactive Google map. The result is almost 30,000 photos and stories that can be browsed by anyone.

Slate proved back in 2005 that podcasts could be much more than audio news stories with its Unauthorized Audio Tours of New York City museums. Instead of listening to the prepackaged audio tour provided by many museums, you can instead listen to culture critic Lee Siegel describe and comment on the museum’s offerings. The idea is still relatively untapped among newsrooms, despite its incredible simplicity.

A more recent trend among museums, tour guides, and other non-journalism outfits is to produce their own mobile apps that act as an official guide to a single or various points of interest. The Museum of Natural History in New York, for example, offers an app that includes GPS tracking, detailed information on exhibits, and bookmarking features.

If the various predictions are correct (and they are), we will not only see a growth in mobile applied to journalism, but also travel journalism in particular.

If you’re looking for additional ways to make your travel plans fun, easier, or more interesting, check out this list of ten smartphone travel apps.

6 Exceptional multimedia student projects

Journalism classes and schools, like professional newsrooms, have the opportunity to create large-scale multimedia projects that are the product of a collaboration between participants. These projects focus on a single subject or issue and tell one story in multiple ways.

The label “student journalist” for some may conjure up images of second-rate work that is not ready for prime time. However, the projects below show just how great the multimedia journalism produced by J-schools students are and the potential student groups have to create interesting, vibrant, and diverse multimedia news stories.

1. Hunger in the Golden State

A project of the USC Annenberg School for Journalism & Communication and California Watch, Hunger in the Golden State explores the problem of food scarcity and waste among California residents and what’s being done about it. The humanity of the stories included on the site is augmented by the different ways they are told: the site includes print stories, slideshows, radio broadcasts, and social media components.

2. BARThood

Students at UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism tell the stories of the patrons of BART — the San Francisco Bay Area transit system — in this comprehensive online news package. Among the text stories and slideshows that are common to this type of project, is an interesting data component for each BART station. A stylish data visualization appears on each page that illustrates statistics like the ethnicity and income level of riders and mode of transportation to the station.

3. Greening the Grid

Greening the Grid, a 2009 project of the students of the University of Miami School of Communication (look for online journalism titan Greg Linch among its participants), documents sustainable energy projects in the Czech Republic and the United States. Among the individual stories is this video that illustrates a farm powered by cow manure and this one documenting a 1981 Mercedes Benz powered by discarded vegetable oil.

4. Streets of Dreams: People and Places of Downtown Phoenix

The students of ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications encourage you to follow along as they explore the passions of the residents of Phoenix, Arizona and the city they call home. The story of several Phoenix neighborhoods and the unique people who live there are illustrated by video, photo, and text stories.

5. Multimedia Standards

Unlike the previously mentioned projects, Multimedia Standards, also produced by University of Miami students focuses on the craft of journalism itself. Participants questioned leaders in online/digital journalism about the state of the industry and presented the recorded answers in an easily navigable grid. The site also includes a useful “Resources” page with links to RSS feeds to some of the top journalism blogs on the web.

6. Powering a Nation: The Truth About Energy

News21, a collaborative initiative of several universities across the United States, produces several outstanding multimedia projects every year. UNC Chapel Hill’s “Powering a Nation” is one of several standouts and tackles the issue of energy in the United States. Like other News21 projects, the site features print stories, interactive elements, and more. The students pushed the story even further by creating interactive news games that invite readers to solve real problems like balancing carbon emissions and energy use.

Also on 10,000 Words:

3 Ways journalism classes are making education more interactive
News media and college students: A match made in heaven?
Journalism Grads: 30 Things You Should Do This Summer