How CartoDB Powers Data Journalism


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How CartoDB Powers Data Journalism

From its beginning  CartoDB been a powerful tool for journalists because it's easy  flexible  scalable and open source. With this simple-to-use tool journalists everywhere are discovering the immense power data visualization gives them for research and telling stories.

us election data map


Today more than 150 media organizations  many of the world’s most respected and widely-followed  use CartoDB in their online reporting.

Journalist Alexandre Léchenet at has used CartoDB to illustrate reports ranging from the housing travails of Roma groups in France to the different ways French cities have adjusted their students academic year. L'chenet explains why he likes CartoDB:

"I love CartoDB most because it's a simple and clean way to rapidly highlight geographical data. Geocoding is easy. The ability to really control the markers and colors with something as simple as CartoCSS makes it the best friend of cartography for data-journalism. And it's open-source!"

Daniel Bramatti and his team from Brazil’s Estadao Dados uses CartoDB a lot in their data blog. He says:

"Last year CartoDB was our platform of choice to visualize election maps. We like CartoDB because it is a very powerful tool  yet very easy to use. It just takes a few clicks and we have a beautiful and fully customizable map to publish in the web or to export to our infographics department."

And this is what Simon Rogers — formerly of The Guardian  now working at Twitter  says about the platform:

"CartoDB is unique in combining ambitious  elegant mapping with the accessibility of free tools. If you want to show complex geo data - in an accessible  shareable way - for most people CartoDB will be the best solution."

Repeatedly journalists are expressing delight at how the simple user interface of CartoDB makes their work easier  as well as  in some cases  more imaginative. Some stories are now more possible to tell in a way that an audience will immediately understand.

Last year the Online News Association (ONA) recognized CartoDB’s contribution to the practice of online journalism by naming it a finalist for an award in Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism. This February  the public named CartoDB a winner in the Publishing Startup Showcase at the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference>.

You don't want your maps to be like others

Now let’s get into the specifics of why CartoDB-generated maps are especially good for data journalists. First  using CartoDB  you can make gorgeous maps in your own distinctive style in at least two ways.

On the one hand  you have the basemaps. You can choose between the existing styles or just add your own. On the other  you have the wizards. These let you style your maps in lots of different ways without having to write a single line of code. Intensity maps  choropleth maps or bubble maps are just some of the wizards implemented in the UI.

map visualization wizard


The idea with all of these methods is that they give instant data visualization power to users with zero coding skills. Of course  users who want  can always use the wizard results as a starting point and modify further for even more map customization.

Merge your datasets and use our filters to discover new relations

One of the most popular features on CartoDB is the Visual Merge. By using this wizard  you can merge two existing tables into a single one. This function is really helpful when creating thematic maps  since it will save you from creating complex SQL queries.

Once you have your data ready  you can analyze and explore it using our brand new filters. These will give you a quick view of how your data looks and allow you to explore it with a higher level of detail. You can even use them as a SQL learning tool  since the result of the filters is plain SQL and can be always edited in your SQL window.img alt="New brand filters in the CartoDB UI" src=""/>This feature and the new ones coming in the 2.1 version will make your maps an awesome piece of information and storytelling.

Your maps always available

We know that media organizations have very specific requirements when working with maps. In most cases  the maps you create will have huge traffic during the first days  but then  the visit counter will go down. So having a platform that scales is important  as is a pricing model that won’t ruin you.

CartoDB uses different Content Delivery Networks in order to keep your map tiles always available and distribute them as fast as possible in the different regions. So data handling  of any volume  is efficient. At the same time  the pricing model is based in two things:  amount of data and number of mapviews. This basically means you only pay for what you use. And if your maps are viewed much more than anticipated you will pay more only if you exceed the number of mapviews included in your plan.

Meet @CartoDB this weekend at Barcelona during the first Open Knowledge Foundation Data Journalism Conference.

For an in-depth illustration of all these data journalism features come meet us this weekend in Barcelona! At the first Data Journalism Conference  organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation  @saleiva will be giving a presentation on Visualizing Data that we promise will tickle your minds (Friday 24th  at 20:00). Join @CartoDB this Saturday the 25th at 18:30  for a hands-on session. Check out the whole event program here.

And we’ll also be giving away a free annual John Snow subscription to the best map application developed during the hackathon  so". Good luck mapping your data! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.