Painting Droughts with a Map

Maps add an entirely new dimension to explanatory journalism. Data visuals help break stories down and give readers something to follow along for context. The Upshot created a map that shows the spread of drought in the United States in the last few months. Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 5.44.19 PM It separates drought severity by color. Users can drag a slider from month to month and watch as the severity of drought worsens, as deeper red and orange splotches grow in west and southwest. It adds to a short written piece on a new point that about 37 percent of the contiguous United States was in at least a moderate drought as of April 7. As a reader, the ability to watch drought intensify in those regions right before my eyes made the the information have a stronger impact on me, more than a regular text post would. The interactive map is simple, easy to use and gets to the point of the Upshot’s story. It is nothing flashy, but that is all that is needed to make the story visual. Getting the reader involved with an interactive is a great way to draw attention to the story.


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