Here’s a news inspired Google map of the political unrest in the Arab world.

A few weeks back, Australia was inundated by severe flooding in many different areas. This was a busy time for us at SBS news. To best tell the story, I was updating a Google map each day – first ‘Queensland Floods’, and then spreading to incorporate northern NSW and Victoria. It turns out, people LOVE this kind of visual storytelling. I was aware of them as a useful tool, but the article it was embedded in has done amazingly well for us as a news site, and exceeded all expectations. Amazingly well.

As such, I came up with another on due to the ongoing civil unrest in the Arab world. First in Tunisia (as we were quick to publish at SBS, leading in to a special coverage minisite with updates from Brian Thomson in Cairo backing up agency copy), then of course notably in Egypt, but also elsewhere in the region. Publishing online news articles on a protest in Egypt or a self-immolation in Mauritania can only go so far in telling the story, so visuals do the job well. Some would say viewers are lazy. There’s probably an argument here, but if they inform people, so be it. This one has particular resonance for me as my partner and I are heading to Syria and probably Lebanon in just a few weeks. Naturally, and for entirely selfish reasons, we are hoping that the Syrians might put up with decades of oppression and censorship until our holiday is through. This, I feel,  would be considerate. And so I have a careful eye on developments in the region. So, it turns out, do readers of SBS World News Australia online.

This ‘news map’ has also done pretty darn well. News, though, online or elsewhere, is always newsier for people, let’s say, if it is in their backyard, and the Queensland flood map smashed it in terms of clicks. Either way, I’m sure we will be doing a few more of these.

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  1. mlw says:

    Dude, that’s cool – good job!

    Maybe extend that hope until after my holiday is finished too. Having said that, I wouldn’t be too upset I experienced some revolting.

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