the transition to digital journalism

Databases, Data Visualizations and Map Mashups

One very effective way to add depth to a particular topic on an online news site is to include interactive databases and map mashups that people can use to explore subjects on their own according to their particular interests.

Databases are popular with Internet users - "40% of adult internet users have gone online for raw data about government spending and activities," according to a survey published in April 2010 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Databases have proven very popular at news sites, with people spending large amounts of time on news sites exploring the information in the databases.

  • The Texas Tribune reports that a third of the traffic to its website is for its online databases.
  • Mission Local, a local news site run by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, created a restaurant health inspections map that had more than 8,700 page views the day it was posted - more than 51 percent of the total pageviews at the site that day. City inspection data for the map was supplied by the EveryBlock project.
  • The Data Blog run by the Guardian in Great Britain is one of the more popular features on the publication's website.
  • An interactive census map produced by NorthJersey.com in February 2011 led the news site in page views for an entire month.
  • Gannett newspapers have been pioneers in adding databases to their local websites, as part of their Information Center online strategy. See MediaShift's October 2008 story on Gannett's Information Centers strategy. 

Check out these other examples of databases and map mashups at online sites.

Databases and map mashups allow people to customize data to their own interests and explore it to develop their own analyses of what the data means.

Providing people with a place to post comments on the data then can lead reporters to do stories exploring trends readers have identified in the data, correct erroneous conclusions, or provide context for a better understanding of the raw data.

Readings and Resources

Presentation Links - Digital Transformation

Presentation Links - Picking Media