Mapping the English Defence League
In January I was asked to do a map using Google fusion tables for the newspaper that I was doing work experience at.
The topic of the article was the English Defence League, and my job was to map all the EDL marches that had taken place over the last few years.
It was left up to me to decide what data to include in the map, and in this post I want to take you through the decision process.
Step 1. I googled EDL marches. A fairly obvious first move. A Wikipedia article came up with list of EDL marches. Three years of academic work at university has drummed into me that I must never take Wikipedia as a source in itself, but the article did usefully have a list of referenced newspaper articles about the marches.
Step 2. The next part was time consuming. It involved reading each article to look for the pertinent facts, and then cross checking the data against other articles using Factiva.
Step 3. Another Factiva trawl, this time to see if I had missed any major marches out from the list.
Step 4. Set up the fusion table and started inputting the data. The problem was that I had much more information about some of the marches than others. I needed to decide what information I should focus on without being too vague or having such a broad spectrum that only a few entries would be complete. I decided on;
Location (self-explanatory for a Google map)
Date (quite important to get a sense of whether the marches are getting bigger or smaller over time)
Then I tried to give, where possible, the number of people marching for the EDL and any interesting facts about whether there were arrests or clashes with the police. One of the things that struck me when I was doing the research was that whenever there was an EDL march, there was almost always a counter-march as well, so I thought it was only fair to put the numbers of counter-marchers in where I possibly could. Quite often the counter-marches were actually bigger than the EDL ones.
The data inputting took less time than the fact checking had, and by the end of a long day the map was ready. Not totally without glitches, as the width of the page rejected the map at first, and we had to play around with it at length to try and get the map embedded.
Finally though, it was finished, and I think illustrated the article better than the factbox that accompanied it in the paper copy.