News databases: Turning numbers into knowledge

Posting large amounts of data on the web violates the very reason the internet exists. Creating a well-presented news database requires a lot of time and effort, but in the end provides an unmatched service. Here a few news sites that have taken advantage of new media technology to create exceptional databases:

Los Angeles Times Homicide Map

The tales of murder recounted in Jill Leovy’s Homicide Report blog were compiled into a database that visually illustrates the city’s lethal trend. The figures are sortable by age, race, gender and a number of other factors.

BBC News: Mapping UK’s teen murder toll

The BBC tells the same story — the startling number of teenagers killed in the country — four different ways with narrative text, a tabled list, a map, and an infographic of the statistics. The entire project is founded on a database of information that otherwise would be a list of faceless names. Broken Trust

Two years of investigative reporting and hundreds of man hours went into creating an index of Florida teachers accused of misconduct. The more than 750 teachers in the database are searchable right down to the street level.

Las Vegas Sun: Flight Delay Calculator

The Sun’s interactive map shows the frequency of delayed flights to and from McCarran Airport over a 12-year period. Users can search either for a particular flight route or click a city to discover the number of delays for that airport.

The New York Times: Casualties of War

The more than 4,000 U.S. service members who died in the Iraq war can seem like an overwhelming number. This interactive infographic lets users break down that number to determine when and where those deaths occurred.

Des Moines Register: Parkersburg Tornado

The Register combined text, photo and video accounts into a chilling, yet awe-inspiring database of the devastation and aftermath of the May 2008 tornado. CinciNavigator has created what is sure to be the future of online journalism: multi-level, searchable databases in which users can view layers of information on top of an interactive map. It sounds like a lot because it is, but the service and others like it will be incredibly useful for years to come.

For more information on what makes a good news database, check out Rich Gordon’s Data as journalism, journalism as data. Also, be sure to check out the work at EveryBlock and

Previously on 10,000 Words:
Tracking down criminals with crime maps
10 Mind-blowing maps (and 3 ways to create them)