When I started out researching news mapping, I didn’t think much of it. If you live in Old West Lawrence, for instance, and there is a spate of robberies in the neighborhood, this is newsworthy to you and perhaps even the citizens in other parts of the city. I assume this is the thought process of chicagocrime.org. Aside from a morbid curiosity or researching a neighborhood before moving, why is this necessary?

Isn’t the location of the crimes going to be reported in the news story? Aren’t you going to be aware that this is happening around you because you saw it on the news? I can’t remember the last time that I saw a story on the local news that didn’t highlight the area where the crime occurred. I know, this assumes people watch the news. But aren’t the same eyeballs looking at chicagocrime.org going to look at local news?

What good comes from having a map that shows the location of local crimes? I really don’t see the point for the person on the street. It seems to be yet another reason for people to shutter themselves into their homes at night, leaving the streets to the criminals. It is yet another tool in the arsenal of the fear mongers. To me, and lots of other people, this is exactly the wrong thing to do if we want to make our neighborhoods safer.

Should we all don the red beret, using a news map as our attack plan?

Bear in mind, this is just one element of news mapping. But this is the one that is winning awards. Am I obtuse? I just don’t get the fascination. Tell me how I am wrong, because I really do want to understand this.