Data visualisation

Mapping for Journalists

About this course

The vast majority of stories published in the news have a geographical dimension: knowing and telling where something happened is part of good journalism. In a lot of cases, a story can benefit from a map to communicate where the story took place.

And a lot of data sets also have a geographical component. With maps, static and interactive, you can convey insights and patterns in the data to the reader.

But with maps, you can do more: you can make geo analysis to gain insights and find stories in geographical data. What schools are located close to industrial plants handling dangerous chemicals? How fast and in what directions is a forest fire spreading? Are there any houses threatened by the fire? Questions like this can be answered by applying geographical analysis techniques.

But geographers in the newsroom are rare and a lot of the time, the people making maps in the newsroom are no cartographers. In this course, you’ll learn the basics of mapping and you’ll learn to use some tools journalists and graphics people can use to improve their map making and start making the geographical analysis.

After this module, you’ll be able to make static and interactive maps, you will know a bit about geographical data and its different file formats, and you will be able to turn lists of addresses into dots on a map automatically.

The tools we will use are Quantum GIS (or QGIS), Carto, Google Earth Pro and All these tools are free and no prior knowledge is required, but if you want to follow along, you should download and install QGIS on your computer.

In a nutshell

Skill level



2 hr 16 min



Students enrolled


Meet your instructor: Maarten Lambrechts

Course introduction

Maarten Lambrechts

Data visualisation consultant


Data journalist, data designer, visualisation consultant

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