From its beginning, CartoDB been a powerful tool for journalists because it’s easy, flexible, scalable and open source. With this simple-to-use tool journalists everywhere are discovering the immense power data visualization gives them for research and telling stories.
Today more than 150 media organizations, many of the world’s most respected and widely-followed, use CartoDB in their online reporting.
Journalist Alexandre Léchenet at lemonde.fr has used CartoDB to illustrate reports ranging from the housing travails of Roma groups in France to the different ways French cities have adjusted their students academic year. L’chenet explains why he likes CartoDB:
“I love CartoDB most because it’s a simple and clean way to rapidly highlight geographical data. Geocoding is easy. The ability to really control the markers and colors with something as simple as CartoCSS makes it the best friend of cartography for data-journalism. And it’s open-source!”
“Last year CartoDB was our platform of choice to visualize election maps. We like CartoDB because it is a very powerful tool, yet very easy to use. It just takes a few clicks and we have a beautiful and fully customizable map to publish in the web or to export to our infographics department.”
“CartoDB is unique in combining ambitious, elegant mapping with the accessibility of free tools. If you want to show complex geo data - in an accessible, shareable way - for most people CartoDB will be the best solution.”
Repeatedly journalists are expressing delight at how the simple user interface of CartoDB makes their work easier, as well as, in some cases, more imaginative. Some stories are now more possible to tell in a way that an audience will immediately understand.
Last year the Online News Association (ONA) recognized CartoDB’s contribution to the practice of online journalism by naming it a finalist for an award in Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism. This February, the public named CartoDB a winner in the Publishing Startup Showcase at the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference>.
Now let’s get into the specifics of why CartoDB-generated maps are especially good for data journalists. First, using CartoDB, you can make gorgeous maps in your own distinctive style in at least two ways.
On the one hand, you have the basemaps. You can choose between the existing styles or just add your own. On the other, you have the wizards. These let you style your maps in lots of different ways without having to write a single line of code. Intensity maps, choropleth maps or bubble maps are just some of the wizards implemented in the UI.
The idea with all of these methods is that they give instant data visualization power to users with zero coding skills. Of course, users who want, can always use the wizard results as a starting point and modify further for even more map customization.
One of the most popular features on CartoDB is the Visual Merge. By using this wizard, you can merge two existing tables into a single one. This function is really helpful when creating thematic maps, since it will save you from creating complex SQL queries.
Once you have your data ready, you can analyze and explore it using our brand new filters. These will give you a quick view of how your data looks and allow you to explore it with a higher level of detail. You can even use them as a SQL learning tool, since the result of the filters is plain SQL and can be always edited in your SQL window.img alt=”New brand filters in the CartoDB UI” src=”https://cartodb.s3.amazonaws.com/tumblr/posts/djourn_3.png”/>This feature and the new ones coming in the 2.1 version will make your maps an awesome piece of information and storytelling.
We know that media organizations have very specific requirements when working with maps. In most cases, the maps you create will have huge traffic during the first days, but then, the visit counter will go down. So having a platform that scales is important, as is a pricing model that won’t ruin you.
CartoDB uses different Content Delivery Networks in order to keep your map tiles always available and distribute them as fast as possible in the different regions. So data handling, of any volume, is efficient. At the same time, the pricing model is based in two things: amount of data and number of mapviews. This basically means you only pay for what you use. And if your maps are viewed much more than anticipated you will pay more only if you exceed the number of mapviews included in your plan.
For an in-depth illustration of all these data journalism features come meet us this weekend in Barcelona! At the first Data Journalism Conference, organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation, @saleiva will be giving a presentation on Visualizing Data that we promise will tickle your minds (Friday 24th, at 20:00). Join @CartoDB this Saturday the 25th at 18:30, for a hands-on session. Check out the whole event program here.
And we’ll also be giving away a free annual John Snow subscription to the best map application developed during the hackathon, so”. Good luck mapping your data! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.
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