GeoJournalism Featured at World Conference of Science Journalists for the First Time

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Internews, Seoul, South Korea

Beginning in 2008, Internews' Earth Journalism Network (EJN) coined the term GeoJournalism to describe using interactive maps and visualized satellite data to report on deforestation. Seven years later, the practice of creating narratives with the help of earth science data and interactive maps has been adopted by EJN partners in Asia, South America and Africa. And earlier this month, the key concepts of GeoJournalism were, for the first time, featured in a special session of the 5th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ 2015) in Seoul, South Korea.

The workshop, “Telling Stories with Interactive Maps and Geographical Data,” was attended by roughly 60 participants of the Congress. It featured examples from EJN’s first GeoJournalism project, InfoAmazonia, which is based upon open data provided by NASA and has included training local journalists how to use digital tools for interactive mapping. InfoAmazonia, which mapped the Amazon region, has since been used as a model for similar projects: Ekuatorial in Indonesia and Oxpeckers in South Africa.

”New geojournalism projects in the Congo and Mekong basins will be launched later this year, along with the creation of the Third Pole GeoJournalism platform in the Himalayan region,” said EJN Program Officer Willie Shubert, one of the session panelists.

Clara Rondunuwu, Editorial Coordinator of Ekuatorial, explained her work in Indonesia. She showed the audience the recently launched in-depth series which combined long-form reporting illustrated with satellite imagery, charts and drone footage. ”The series was popular on social media,” she said.

The WCSJ2015 session also provided some practical exercises for the participants. A glossary of common terms and data formats used by journalists when working with maps and geographical information was provided. A short presentation demonstrated how a reporter can pitch editors, sources and colleagues to seek data for a story on retreating glaciers.

EJN also demonstrated some practical ways to deploy two digital tools – StoryMap.JS and CartoDB – for interactive mapping. In less than five minutes, it was demonstrated how can anyone can download real-time data on forest fires from NASA and create an animated visualization.

Journalist Anna Valmero from the Philippines attended the workshop and wrote in SciDev.Net: ”Journalists today have access to powerful yet low-cost tools as well as open data to practice GeoJournalism which could offset the challenges of ever tighter budgets and deadlines.”

For more materials and tutorials on how to use earth science data and doing interactive maps, please visit Geojournalism.org