Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mapping the Boston Marathon Bombings


It is surprising how few news stories are illustrated with online maps. This week's tragic bombing at the end of the Boston Marathon and the ensuing hunt for the suspects proved however to be a notable exception.

The New York Times went with a static 'bird's eye' aerial view of Boylston St in Boston to show the location of the two bomb explosions and the marathon finishing line. Whilst most other online news sites opted for annotated maps of the scene the Times' Site of the Explosions at the Boston Marathon aerial photograph, was for me the most evocative visualisation of the tragic events.


Boston.com used Leaflet to create a map that allowed Bostonians and other witnesses to add their own accounts of the events to a map of Boston. The Boston Marathon Bombings: Your Story provided a compelling means for eye witnesses to share their own stories of the day's tragic events.

The shooting of one of the Tsarnaev brothers and the subsequent 22 hour manhunt for the other brother led to a proliferation of online maps as news sites and citizen journalists tried to provide some geographical context to the unfolding events. Again the New York Times provided one of the best mapped visualisations for the hunt for the bombing suspects.


The Hunt for the Boston Bombing Suspects uses a static Google Map with interactive hotspots to provide a narrative of the hunt for Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev.

Readers can either click on the interactive map markers to read the accompanying text or can simply scroll down the page. As the reader scrolls the map itself is held in place and as each stage in the news narrative appears below the map the relevant location is highlighted on the map.
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