texas-moody

Self-Directed Course

Intro to Mapping and GIS for Journalists

August 27 to September 23, 2018
Instructor(s):   Darla Cameron Chris Essig
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This resource page features course content from the Knight Center for Journalism in the America's massive open online course (MOOC) titled " Intro to Mapping and GIS for Journalists." The four-week course took place from August 27 to September 23, 2018. We are now making the content free and available to students who took the course and anyone else who is interested in geography, map making, data visualization and visual storytelling. No geographic background is required.

The course, which was supported by the Knight Foundation, was taught by the Texas Tribune's Darla Cameron and Chris Essig. They created and curated the content for the course, which includes video classes and tutorials, readings, exercises, and more.

 The course materials are broken up into four modules:

  • Module 1: Covers the basic principles of map-making and what kind of data makes a good map. You will also learn how to use QGIS to explore geographic data.
  • Module 2: Covers how and why journalists combine geographic datasets with other data to tell really great stories.
  • Module 3: Covers how you can analyze data to make more complex maps. You will learn how to draw story-worthy conclusions from what you find.
  • Module 4: Offers data visualization tips and some design principles to keep in mind when publishing maps online or in print. You will learn how to take your new geographic skills to the next level.

As you review this resource page, we encourage you to watch the videos, review the readings, and complete the exercises as time allows. The course materials build off each other, but the videos and readings also act as standalone resources that you can return to over time.

We hope you enjoy the materials and share them with others who are interested in geography, map making, data visualization and visual storytelling. If you have any questions, please contact us at journalismcourses@austin.utexas.edu.

About the Instructors

Darla Cameron

Darla Cameron

Darla Cameron is a senior data visuals developer at the Texas Tribune, a non-profit news organization that covers politics and policy in Texas. Darla joined the Tribune in April 2018. Previously, she was a graphics editor at The Washington Post, where she told visual stories at the intersection of money and politics. Before that, she was a news artist at the Tampa Bay Times. Darla’s work has been recognized by the Society for News Design, Online News Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Darla was a fellow at the Poynter Institute and has taught mapping and graphics at The University of Missouri, where she studied journalism and geography. She is from western Colorado.

 

Chris Essig

Chris Essig

Chris Essig is a data visuals developer at Texas Tribune, where he builds data visualizations and news apps. Before joining the team in February 2017, Chris spent almost six years in Iowa. Most recently, he was developer at The Gazette in Cedar Rapids for two and a half years. His team was involved in both engineering and newsroom projects. Before then, he was online editor at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, which is where he got his start building graphics in newsrooms. He was also an adjunct professor at the University of Northern Iowa, teaching a course that covered both multimedia and data journalism. He is originally from Illinois and received a master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois in Springfield.

When to make a map

In this module, we’ll talk about the basic principles of map-making and what kind of data makes a good map. We’ll also start using QGIS to explore geographic data.

 This module will cover:

  • When a map can help tell a story, and when it cannot.
  • Cartographic basics — latitude and longitude, projections and scale.
  • The different types of geographic data — vector points, lines and shapes and raster images, and how to open and manipulate spatial data in QGIS.

 Video Class

1. What is a map?

Watch Video  Transcript  Slides

2. Sometimes, a map shouldn’t be a map

Watch Video  Transcript  Slides

3. Components of a map

Watch Video  Transcript  Slides

4. QGIS

Watch Video  Transcript  Sample Data

5. QGIS 2

Watch Video  Transcript

 Readings

Combining geographic data

In this module, we’ll dig into how and why journalists combine geographic datasets with other data to tell really great stories.

 This module will cover:

  • When and why to put multiple pieces of data on the same map.
  • How to geocode data and make a dot map.
  • How to join datasets together inside QGIS to make something with a sum greater than its parts.
  • How to edit data in QGIS to make adjustments on the fly.

 Video Class

1. Best practices for showing two pieces of data on one map

Watch Video  Transcript  Slides

2. How cartographers use color

Watch Video  Transcript  Slides

3. Putting dots on a map (QGIS)

Watch Video  Transcript  Sample Data

4. Merging CSV data into shapefiles (QGIS)

Watch Video  Transcript  Sample Data

5. Creating a choropleth map (QGIS)

Watch Video  Transcript

6. Editing data in QGIS

Watch Video   Transcript

 Readings

Analyzing geographic data

In this module, we will dive deeper into how you can analyze data to make more complex maps. We’ll talk about how to draw story-worthy conclusions from what you find.

 This module will cover:

  • How two Washington Post journalists analyzed racial data to create amazingly detailed dot-density segregation maps — and how to use this technique with your own data.
  • Three useful ways to analyze data in QGIS: points in a polygon, dot density and point buffers.

 Video Class

1. What does geographic analysis add to stories?

Watch Video  Transcript  Slides

2. Making a dot density map

Watch Video  Transcript  Sample Data

3. Counting points with polygons

Watch Video  Transcript  Sample Data

4. Creating point buffers

Watch Video  Sample Data 1  Sample Data 2  Transcript

 Google Hangout with Aaron Williams and Armand Emamdjomeh

Watch Video  Watch Video

 Readings

Map publication and next steps

In this module, we will talk about visualizing data and learn some design principles to keep in mind when publishing maps online or in print. We’ll also discuss how to take your new geographic skills to the next level.

 This module will cover:

  • How to avoid accidentally making a population density map.
  • Two methods for simplifying data.
  • How to export a map from QGIS and next steps to get it ready for publication.
  • What digital publication tools journalists and media practitioners use to tell stories with maps on the internet.

 Video Class

1. What are maps bad at?

Watch Video  Transcript  Slides

2. Geocoding

Watch Video  Transcript  Sample Data

3. Simplifying with QGIS

Watch Video  Transcript  Sample Data

4. Simplifying with MapShaper

Watch Video  Transcript  Sample Data

5. Exporting maps out of QGIS

Watch Video  Transcript  Sample Data

6. Next steps for learning how to get maps online

Watch Video  Transcript  Slides

 Readings