Why journalists should still be using Newsmap

byAndy Shuai Liu
May 5, 2012 in Digital Journalism

The fast-paced digital news cycle requires journalists to sift through heaps of online information and find what they need. New tools crop up all the time, but few are useful enough to establish a faithful user base as Newsmap has.

Newsmap is an interactive news portal launched in 2004 by Marcos Weskamp, now the head of design at Flipboard. It employs the treemapping method to visualize real-time news data aggregated by Google News. It's simple, quick, timely and organized--perfect for a reporter on deadline.

“My students and I all like it and use it very often,’” says Jing Guo, a Ph.D. candidate and teaching assistant in journalism at the University of Maryland. “It is a very efficient way to get informed and know what matters the most in the news at a given time.”

Here's why you should check it out:

It's efficient. In literally “just a sec,” it loads the latest news published by mainstream media worldwide. If you type keywords in the search bar, results will be instantly shown and refreshed according to the changes you make.

It's easy to navigate. The color-coded, nested-tile design organizes and presents news data to elevate your visual experience. For example, you can move your cursor over a blue tile for sports news, skim quickly through the headline and the instantly automated preview, and decide if you want to click on it to continue to read the whole piece.

No-brainer customization. You can choose to read news specific to countries, categories and publishing time and save your preferences by registering for an account on the site. For example, if a journalism student had to prepare for a world entertainment news quiz that starts in a few minutes, she could probably just select all countries on the top banner, check the purple cell that reads “entertainment” on the bottom of the page to start cramming.

There are a few caveats. In an email, the developers of Newsmap still call the tool “super beta." It can be challenging to fine-tune country-specific news data with an expanded country list, and its mobile compatibility could be improved if Newsmap developed mobile apps for phones besides Android app.

Have you been using other news tools or applications? Recommend them to the IJNet community by commenting below.

Photo: Screenshot of the Newsmap website