It’s a challenge to conceive of a news community consisting of parts of eight states and two provinces.
But an orbital camera can snap it all in the same frame.
Satellite imagery was among the digital geography tools for journalism that David Poulson demonstrated recently at Michigan State University’s library.
His talk was among those given at a program sponsored by the university’s digital humanities program in partnership with the department of geography and school of journalism.
Poulson, the Knight Center’s senior associate director, explained how the Knight Center used digital tools to help explain land use changes and other environmental issues on its Great Lakes Echo news service. Among them:
NASA’s Earth Observatory is a trove of images that can illustrate regional stories on climate, water and the impact of glaciers on the landscape, Poulson said. Closer to the ground, MSU holds an archive of aerial pictures of the state dating back to the the 1930s.
Those images can be used to contrast with Google Earth images to illustrate landscape level changes such as sprawl, urban decay and coastal land use, he said.
And by animating the complex environmental modeling already done by researchers, journalists can free data from the lab to increase public understanding of environmental impacts and consequences, he said.