Add Mapping Skills to Your Journalism Toolbox with Knight Center’s New Online Course

Maps are a powerful visual tool for journalists to analyze geographic data, identify patterns, and make sense of an overwhelming amount of data.

We will explore their practical application in our new course, “Practical Mapping for Journalists: How to Use Geographic Data to Improve Your Stories” who lasts four weeks from July 7 to August 11, 2022. This Knight Center course will be taught by a journalist and an instructor John Keefewhich will teach you how to use maps to improve your work as a journalist and digital storyteller. Registration is open now!

“My career as a cartographer started out by mapping hurricane evacuation zones in New York, showing people which parts of the city were vulnerable to a big storm – then literally helping people figure out if they should evacuate in the first place. a hurricane is approaching,” said Keefe, senior. data and visual editor for the latest climate news at CNN. “Maps help tell stories on a national or regional level, but also on a local, personal and immediate level.”

This special course, which is a BOC (big online course), is paid and will be more advanced. Plus, it’s limited to a few hundred students, instead of thousands like our Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Due to the reduced size of the course, there is more room for interaction between the students and the instructor.

As an introduction to the course, Keefe will show you important maps, including some he helped create for CNN and The New York Times. It will also introduce you to the services and data used in the course. Students are also encouraged to explore their own data so that they can use it during the course, but it is not necessary.

“A lot of people, myself included, learn best by exploring data they already know something about,” Keefe said. “It may be data about neighborhoods in your city. Or maybe it’s a topic you cover, like poverty or politics. Using data related to things you know is fun, and you often see patterns that are both surprising and familiar.

“That said, you don’t have need to find your own data to take this course, I have a lot of data to explore. So if you can’t find yours, definitely don’t worry,” he added.

During the course, students will use the free features of the following services: Glitch, Datawrapper, Mapbox and Mapshaper.

“With every tool we’ll explore, it’s pretty simple to get good results quickly,” Keefe said. “It means that during our short time together, you can create base maps and get a base to explore their more sophisticated features.”

The four weekly modules of the course will focus on a specific topic:

  • Module 1 covers the basic steps to start a mapping project, including marrying values ​​to shapes and creating shape maps in Datawrapper
  • Module 2 examines different geographic data formats, as well as ethical and data privacy issues related to mapping
  • Module 3 introduces you to creating interactive maps with Mapbox and Glitch, including working with predefined “base maps”
  • Module 4 explores creating repeatable maps with new data using the free Mapshaper tool

Students do not need any previous mapping or coding experience to take this course, but a basic knowledge of spreadsheets and exporting data to CSV files is assumed.

The lesson will be taught using video lectures, transcripts, readings, discussion forums and quizzes. The course is asynchronous, so you can complete the activities on the days and times that best suit your schedule. However, there are recommended deadlines so as not to fall behind.

Unlike MOOCs, which are free and attract thousands of people, BOCs cost US$95, including full course access and a certificate of completion for those who meet course requirements. There is no formal academic credit associated with the certificate.

“Journalists looking to develop mapping skills or take their existing skills to the next level will undoubtedly benefit greatly from this course,” said Mallary Tenore, associate director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. “Students will be in good hands with John Keefe, who is one of the leading experts in this field and a longtime Knight Center instructor.”

This is the fourth class Keefe, a popular instructor, has taught at the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. He is the senior data and visuals editor for breaking climate news at CNN, and was formerly part of the network’s climate team. Before landing at CNN, Keefe contributed to election and Pulitzer Prize coverage on COVID-19 as a graphics/multimedia editor at The New York Times. And before that, he was Investigators Editor at Quartz and ran the Quartz AI Studio. He also created the Data News team at public radio station WNYC. Keefe runs the DIY and education company Really Good Smarts LLC and has taught at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, as well as other universities.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from Keefe and get started creating visually appealing and educational maps that will help you understand and explain your reports. register today!

About Stuart M. McFarland

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