Expert Review: Knight Story Maps

Knight Story Maps is a fantastic tool that allows you to create interactive, map based visualizations while incorporating other visuals from outside sources such as Twitter, YouTube and information from Wikipedia, online news articles and more.

What can it do?

Knight Story Maps are great for adding pictures, videos and links to map based stories and presentations. It allows you to drop a pin on a specific part of a map, and with this pin, you can add  specific information prevalent to that geographic location. If a newsworthy event took place there, you can link to a specific online news story. Or perhaps there is a famous building in a certain area, you could link to a photo, or even a virtual tour from YouTube. It then allows you to move seamlessly from one pin to the next, especially helpful if the story has a set timeline. Along with these pins, there is space for a small blurb to explain the visualization. Snapmap, a part of Knight Maps, can quickly create a map using your 20 most recent geo-tagged Instagram photos, a cool feature to quickly and uniquely show the places you’ve been.

 What kind of stories does it work with?

With Knight Story Maps, you can easily do profile stories, breaking news stories, such as the Al Jazera article Journey to Nowhere, chronicling the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370. Because of the ability to incorporate geographical aspects with a wide variety of informative visualizations, there is a host of uses for these story maps. They work especially well with stories that span across a period of time and or geographical location, because the maps allow you to go easily from pin to pin whether in order of time or variation of location.

How to get Started:

When you first begin to create your map, you are given two options. The first is the standard location based story map, and the second, called Gigapixle allows you to take a piece of art, and use that as the background of the story, in place of the map. This extremely cool feature allows you to look at different aspects of one work of art or photograph, and how all of those small details come together to create one single work. When creating a  map based story, it allows you to choose your starting location, and make slides for each pin that follows. The maps are also very detailed, down to the street names, not just the general area. Much like Microsoft PowerPoint, each location is a slide, which can be added or removed as needed. These slides allow you to link to an outside source of pictures or info, then write a brief description. You can then customize the slides color or background image to visually coincide with the story itself. Overall it’s a very straight forward, user friendly interface.

 Difficulty Level:

One of the best aspects of Knight Story Maps is the great, informative visualizations you can create with it, and how refreshingly easy it is to use. Editing each slide is a breeze with a simple interface that is clearly marked as easy to understand. You don’t need to have any prior skills to make these maps, which makes it a great tool for a wide variety of users and applications.


I would highly recommend this tool to all of my fellow journalism majors. It is a great way to really help visualize a story, which can really make a difference in the power and impact the story has. The ease of use is fantastic and the things you can create are honestly very cool. I like Knight Story Maps so much in fact that I plan on somehow incorporating it into my final story, because most of my information is geographically based, and adding in links and other helpful information will make the final product both visually and mentally stimulating.


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