L.A. Times uses mapping, databases to build interactive homicide map

Eric Ulken is the editor, interactive technology, for latimes.com. He also is a former student editor for OJR.

I’d like to draw your attention to a new feature that launched on latimes.com this week: The Homicide Map is a visual interface to the Homicide Report, Times reporter Jill Leovy’s effort to chronicle every homicide in Los Angeles County.

As of July 30, The Times has counted 496 homicides in L.A. County. While the Homicide Report focuses on the individual victims, this tool helps users analyze the broader geographic and demographic trends within that staggering figure.

The Homicide Map enables users to:

  • Filter homicides by victim’s race, gender, cause of death, and other parameters
  • Find homicides near an address and/or ZIP code
  • View photos of victims and link to Leovy’s reports (and the sometimes heartbreaking user comments that accompany them)
  • Get customized updates on an RSS reader or in Google Earth

    We’re excited about the marriage of great Times reporting with a data-rich visual interface.

  • About Eric Ulken

    Eric Ulken left his job as editor for interactive technology at the Los Angeles Times in November 2008 to travel and report on trends and best practices in online journalism. He is a 2005 graduate of the communication management M.A. program at USC's Annenberg School for Communication, where he was an editor and producer for OJR and Japan Media Review. He has been a web monkey at newsrooms in six states, including his native Louisiana.


    1. Yes, I’ll second the call for a zip-code or heat map showing geographic distribution of incidents, or better yet, rates. But otherwise, I love this. No paper ever should let a local homicide go unnoted.

    2. Tom Grubisich says:

      This is a great addition to LAT reporter Leovy’s admirable compilation — one more example of why we need experienced, committed mainstream journalists. I hope the LAT team will, as it gets access to and assembles more data, be able to pinpoint likely or proven cause of homicide. How often do drugs figure in? What are the other major categories for cause of death? Also, could you provide a tab that would show the total universe of homicides geographically, not just 25 at a time?

    3. Thanks, Tom and Robert, for the feedback. Yes, the 25-at-a-time thing is a bit of a pain. It’s a technical limitation — the more points on the map, the slower the filters operate. But the idea for a separate heat map or point map showing the universe of homicides is definitely something we’ll consider for version 2.