Thursday, April 7, 2011

How multi-media tools enable better displays of data

I can't help but continue clicking around on this Google map created by Political Reporter Charles Crumm.
It shows the exact number of foreclosures by community for each year during the past 10 years.
See the article, Foreclosures spike in March WITH MAP AND CHART
Could this information been presented on a print page? Sure, but the staff resources required to create something like that are huge and the amount of space such a chart would take up on a page would be huge too.
This is an area where digital journalism wins. One reporter, one database and one tool (batchgeo) that significantly cuts down the time involved in compiling and presenting this information. Compare that to one reporter spending hours transferring information from an Excel spreadsheet to a Newsedit document, only to set up even more hours of work for a second staffer to take that Newsedit data and turn it into a pretty full-page chart that eats up valuable space on the page.

View Oakland County Foreclosures in a full screen map

It was time-efficient enough to create that map that Crumm didn't stop there. Taking another set of data, he made a bar graph for foreclosures by the month since January last year. It really gives a visual to demonstrate what the story is all about — that it's difficult to discern a reliable pattern in foreclosures.
A simple glance at the graph instantly relays that foreclosures were high all last year, appeared to dip drastically in the beginning of this year but have now suddenly skyrocketed again.
March Foreclosures

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