5 Ideas for ThingLink’d Journalism

Interactives can easily take time, resources and skill-sets that not every newsroom (or individual journalist) has. For those situations, ThingLink is simple tool that anyone can pick up and use today (or, really, right now) and create an engaging experience that helps tell a story.

We’ve written about ThingLink before, but as more notable newsroom uses pop up, it’s worth again walking through where its strengths lay.

To do that recap: take a look at this interactive image that former contributor Elana Zaknow social media producer for The Wall Street Journal, used as an example in our previous piece. It was inspired by this tagged image by Berliner Morgenpost. Hover over the dots.

Neat, right? ThingLink lets you take an image and then point and click to add other links or media to specific points on that image. This ability can augment your images as explanatory tools, and as such, can add another layer of depth to your online reporting or storytelling. The above photo from the Situation Room during the raid that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death is well-known, for instance, and spread far when it was released. But how much of the general public really knows who is in it besides Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton? And who knew that was a burn bag in the corner? (Hover over the dot next to Obama for that one.)

Adding a meta-layer of information and media to photos is one noteworthy newsroom tool to have handy on its own. But “images” are more than just photos, of course, and they are only one kind of image for which you can add an interactive layer.

Here is a quick breakdown of non-photo possibilities for ThingLink’s journalism:


Don’t know how to code but good with Illustrator? Make a simple timeline and pop in links to your stories when they occurred.


Have a nice map and want to include some pop-up info without a lot of hassle on your end? Here’s one ThingLink’d map the Washington Post made about Syria.

Who’s who

Have a lot of people you’re highlighting and want to share some prepped bio information about them (in an engaging way)? Here’s how Forbes did it.


Trying to explain something and want to point out the pieces as you go? Check out what Arizona Daily Star put together about the Wildcats’ offense.


Want to talk through some points of interest in a government document? Save a JPEG of the file, upload and tag away. (As an example, I gave this a try with my resume.)