The first step in creating our CHI Fellowship project is pitching our project idea to our cohort. Each of the fellows creates a project vision document, where we define our project scope, product, audiences, technology needs, and all manner of details about the project we hope to create by the end of the program. Story Atlas is still in the beginning stages, but the hope is to document its development to provide a guide for future CHI projects. So far, progress has consisted of identifying technical specifications, identifying milestones, and outlining the project vision document, part of which can be read below.
Story Atlas is a narrative-driven web experience that uses story maps and “scrollytelling” to give context to interactive data visualization of the geographic, temporal, and narrative progression of a year of newspaper coverage of a societally significant news event. The first iteration of this project will specifically examine the news cycle covering the murder of George Floyd but can be expanded to do further analysis of other news events. Through this project, users will learn information about a particular news event (i.e., George Floyd’s life and death), the ways that media outlets have constructed coalescing narratives around this event, and how these narratives progressed geographically and temporally over a year. The goal is to highlight the significance of media narratives in the formation of the collective memory of society. For example, with George Floyd’s murder, the project will chronicle several narratives surrounding social justice movements (i.e., Black Lives Matter), police brutality in low-income communities, and police immunity in wrongful death cases. This project will display how the news cycle is not just an information ecology, but a narrative ecology.
Audiences & Outcomes
The goal of this project is to expand public understanding of the news cycle around significant events. In modern society, news and media play a significant role as the “mediated center” of collective memory. The primary audience for this project is journalists. StoryAtlas will lay out a clear outline of how journalism outlets can use similar accessible tools to analyze their coverage of news events to assess the narratives they are publishing and whether those narratives align with their ethics. The secondary audience for this project is media scholars, who would similarly be able to use StoryAtlas for narrative media research. And finally, the third audience for this project is the general public. They would use the interactive stories created for analysis of news events analyzed via StoryAtlas to gain perspective into how certain narratives proliferate in the media ecosystem.
This project will rely heavily on open-source and publicly available web applications, all built and managed in GitHub to contribute to the open-source digital community. The project will consist of three primary applications:
- Natural Language Processing (NLP) and word embeddings– Gensim
- Interactive data map graphics– Mapbox
- Scrollytelling narrative design– Pudding.cool & New York Times data visualization resources
This project aims to create partnerships between the public, academia, and newsrooms. Hopefully, partnerships in these three sectors will develop as the project continues.