Journalists and storytellers wonder how they can tell their stories in a way that will grab attention and engage readers, especially as news consumption becomes more visual.

Interactive story maps integrate visual information with the words of the story, and help to place any story within the context of its time and surroundings. In my work as a student assistant for the One River, Many Stories project, I have created a map (using Esri’s online Story Map application) that brings together stories about the St. Louis River and surrounding river communities.

Here is the initial map with story points on a basemap that includes the St. Louis River and St. Louis River watershed. Viewers can zoom in and out on the river and watershed, and choose which stories to read. I chose this data (the river and the watershed) to give viewers an understanding of the main subject of this story map. On Esri’s Story Map website, there are many templates to choose from, and each helps tell stories in a new way. I chose this template as it allowed me to place each story in a related location surrounding the St. Louis River, and it allows a basic level of interaction with these River Places.

View Larger


On March 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30, One River, Many Stories is hosting a Story Map and Data Visualization Workshop at the Ecolibrium 3 offices (2304 W. Superior St.). We will learn how journalists utilize web mapping and data visualization, and then learn how to make our own story maps. Bring your laptop!

Examples of some maps created to help tell stories:

  1. Mona Smith’s Bdote Memory Map, a project of the Minnesota Humanities Council, tells Dakota stories.
  2. The St.Louis River Estuary’s historical and scientific points of interest are the focus of this map. Cynthia Hagley of Minnesota Sea Grant and David Hart of Wisconsin Sea Grant created this map. Both will be with us on March 19 to show us how they did it.
  3. Check out Esri’s searchable Story Map Gallery for a broad range of maps and stories.
  4. This map is an open data-driven media platform that highlights events in the world’s conflict zones, linking points on a map to corresponding stories.

“One River, Many Stories” is a journalism, media and storytelling project and resource hub for journalists, educators, and citizens to foster deeper conversations about our community. This University of Minnesota Duluth Journalism program project is funded in part by the Knight Foundation Fund of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.

St. Louis River, April 2016: See what happens when journalists and storytellers in one region turn their attention to one topic.

For more information, contact Project Coordinator Judy Budreau at