You may be familiar with Google Maps as a way to look up a business, get directions, or find your way around a city. This web mapping service is provided by Google and it powers many map-based services.
For a journalist, or a blogger, Google Maps have become a useful and informative tool for storytelling. Because it is web-based, it is a great interactive form of journalism which is easy for readers to use. For example, if you wanted to know where to watch the Olympic torch relay travel through London in the Olympics, The Argus newspaper offered a Google Map which was much easier to use than trying to read a story with street directions. Or, to offer visual information to its readers about a fire, the LA Times put together this map. The Richmond Confidential created a map about homicides, which offers information about each one. Just click on a point and you will see a photo and information about a particular homicide.
Classic Google Maps
Google Maps launched the beta version of a new mapping tool called Google Maps Engine Lite, which offers fun new features, but also makes it impossible to embed your map in your WordPress. If you would like your map to be placed in your WordPress blog, you must create your map in the classic Google Maps.
Here is a tutorial on the classic Google Maps from Interactive Journalism, from the Reed School of Journalism at West Virginia University.
If you are already signed in on Google Maps Engine Light, but want to return to Classic Google Maps, go to this link: https://www.google.com/maps?output=classic
Google Maps Engine Light
If you are OK with just providing a link to your Google Map, you can create it in the new Google Maps Engine Light. When you share your link, it may require the viewer to sign-in with their gmail. Here’s an example of a link I created.
Here’s one professor’s solution to that problem. But if you are willing to be part of the beta testing of this cool feature, here’s a video tutorial on how to create a map in Google Maps Engine Light. Here’s another good tutorial that also includes how to upload data sets into your map.
Your assignment is to create a Google Map with at least 8 place markers on it and either post the link or the map onto your blog, depending on which maps application you use. This is a 60-point assignment that must be turned in before you leave class today.
Finally, just to note, Google has a mapping application called Google Fusion Tables, which allows for much more detailed analysis of data sets from .csv or Excell sheets. Most of the highly detailed and interactive maps created by companies such as The New York Times are made with Google Fusion Tables. For those of you who are up to the challenge, I would recommend trying it out at some point.
But for today, start out with a simple Google Map!