Build a New St. Louis
Organisation: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (United States)
Publication Date: 03/19/2016
Size of team/newsroom:large
DescriptionSt. Louis is fragmented. In St. Louis County, for example, there are 90 municipalities, 81 municipal courts and 57 separate police departments. In the months since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the effects of this political division have become clear. Our editorial page editor, Tony Messenger, wanted to write an editorial inviting St. Louisans to imagine what St. Louis might be like if we started from scratch, if we built a new St. Louis. He asked if I could put together some sort of interactive that might let our readers experiment with redrawing or recreating St. Louis. We had limited time and resources, but I was able to build an interactive that lets readers merge existing municipalities to create larger blocs or burroughs. The app generates new names, using fragments of the merged cities' names. Some of these new names are really sublime, like "Richster Heights" or "Wildballfield." The app also recalculates demographics and per-capita income for the newly merged municipalities. In this way, readers can strive to build more racially or economically balanced cities if they wish.
What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?This interactive is unique for us because it came out an editorial idea, rather than a straight news reporting or feature impetus. We published the "Build a New St. Louis" app concurrently with an editorial written by Tony Messenger and the editorial board, calling for a re-imagining of our region. This was the ultimate piece in a long line of editorials Tony had written calling for greater cooperation and consolidation in our region in the wake of Ferguson. On a technical level, I had never seen a mapping app online that did quite what I wanted to do in terms of merging cities or shapes on a map. I had to come up with some techniques for keeping track of municipalities that had been merged, and recalculating the demographics, as well as an algorithm to create new municipality names by breaking up the existing names and recombining them.
You have to be connected to contribute
You have to be connected to follow
Leave this project and no longer be informed about this project
By joining this project, you will be informed by email when an update or a new contribution is posted on the website.
Thank you for your active participation !
The GEN Community Team