PAULINE'S PICKS: 'The Sun' of Baltimore Creates an Interactive Homicide Map

By: Pauline Millard I'm a big fan of simplicity, and today's Pick is about taking a simple tool, such as a map, and using it to illuminate trends in a community.

The Sun of Baltimore last week launched an online feature in which readers can log on and learn about murder rates in the city. Using an interactive map, the Sun breaks down the details of homicides, right down to the street address, the sex of the victim, and how they were killed.

Sun reporter Gus Sentementes compiles the data using information from the City of Baltimore. designer Stephen Mekosh then produces the map. This feature will be updated continually, and readers can expect to see more of these maps and databases on the site in the future to supplement the articles.

Maps and graphics are nothing new to newspapers. What's intriguing about the Sun's homicide maps is that they are interactive and constantly changing. As crimes are commited, the newspaper logs them and relays that information to readers. It's certainly faster than going though the police department -- and it gives readers a better understanding of their community, however dark.

But as useful as the homicide map is, there's one problem: it's hard to find. Like many new media features on newspapers, it's tacked on in a random part of the site. In this case, it's buried under the 'Baltimore City' section, which is a sub-section under the 'Maryland' menu. I say, if you've put in a lot of work into a new feature, show it off.

Is your paper using new technologies for the civic good? If so, I'd love to hear about it.

In case you missed them, here are some past Pauline's Picks:

Montana Web siteUses a Simple Podcast to Tell Local Stories

AP's asap Creates Video for a Young, Niche Beat

The Fayetteville Observer looks to the web to fill a nightly newscast need .

The Washington Post uses various multimedia in a special report and Post Traumatic stress Disorder and the Walter Reed medical center.


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