There’s an interesting post on Martin Stabe’s Fleet Street 2.0 blog about local newspaper group Archant‘s plans to use mapping for news presentation. Geotagging (as described by Archant’s Ian Davies) is a pain in the back end, as it’s often impossible to pinpoint the exact spot relevant to a particular story… but it’s the only way to do it.
Otherwise you just end up with algorithm-based guesswork, as in this example. Ben O’Neill does a really good job with limited detail to work from… but inevitably you end up with false locations. Like at the moment, a story from BBC Somerset is positioned inexplicably in Coleraine, Co Londonderry. Or a piece on the World Bank is plonked in Mousehole, Cornwall. (And FYI: the World Bank is not based in Cornwall.) I also note a recurring problem with the new Northern Ireland First Minister, and a town just west of Glasgow, but I suppose that’s bound to happen.
It’s funny this subject should come up today because, although it’s too early for me to blog about it yet, I’m currently working on something related to maps and news presentation myself, on behalf of a major UK news outlet. It’s the sort of think a geek will look at and say ‘duh, I could have programmed that.’ But we’ve designed the production interface for speed and simplicity, allowing stressed journalists to produce something really quite intricate with minimal effort. And I’m convinced the potential is huge, bringing a new level of interaction to the presentation of the Big Stories. If all goes well, it should see its first use (of many, I hope) in June.