A screenshot of the interactive map commemorating flood survivors includes a headline that says, “Listen to stories of 1972 Black Hills Flood survivors,” an intro that says, “The marked spots on the map are the locations of where the survivors told their stories. Click on the marked spots on the map to read about or hear from survivors of the 1972 Black Hills Flood.” Finally, credits include Annie Jennemann, Regan Mertz and photos by Johnny Sundby Photography.

The final interactive map includes a headline, caption and credits at the bottom.

Combining historical and current day journalism in an interactive experience

South Dakota Public Broadcasting used archival maps, audio stories, photos and other content to combine reporting on survivors’ stories

June 9 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Black Hills Flood in South Dakota. To commemorate the anniversary, South Dakota Public Broadcasting has been working on a landing page that includes audio stories of the survivors and a full-length documentary. We worked with SDPB to edit the audio and build the interactive map experience that puts the survivors’ stories together for the anniversary landing page.

Editing audio

Before the map could be created, we had to go through the almost 30 interview clips that ranged from around 20 minutes long to over an hour. We chose the 11 that we did because they were not featured at all or only in parts in one of the other storytelling methods. Once we narrowed it down to those 11 survivors’ stories, the audio clips were uploaded into Adobe Audition for editing. 

Once the audio clips were ready, they were then transcribed so that we could take pull quotes and input them into the map along with the survivors’ photos.

Creating the map

We were given a historical PDF map that shows the flood proximity and locations of where the survivors were interviewed. We used a georeferencing feature in QGIS, a free mapping tool, to align the historical map with a current day map so we could plot survivor locations using latitude and longitude. 

A screenshot of two windows in QGIS while georeferencing showing a present-day street view map on the left with five dots and the static flood map on the right with the same five dots in the same locations.
Georeferencing in QGIS includes choosing points on a static map image and either inputting coordinates to match those points or clicking a spot on a live map.
A screenshot of the interactive map’s pop up box shows one survivor, Steve Paula. The white box hovering over the map shows an image of Steve Paula leaning against a brick wall, his name, an excerpt that reads, ““And that night, my dad was the funeral director that got a call from, I don't know if it was the police department or the sheriff or the coroner saying, ‘You better get to your funeral home. This is bad.’ So he left and headed down to the funeral home, which was on the corner of Kansas City and 13th street. So his night ended early, or started early,” a link that says, “Read more about Steve Paula,” and a play button for the edited audio from Paula.
The interactive map includes a pop-up box for each mark on the map with information about a survivor.

After adding the yellow marks to point to survivors’ locations at the time of the interview, we saved the map as an SVG. We then used the SVG to make the marks clickable with Javascript. When a reader clicks on a mark on the map, a box (also called a modal) will pop up with the survivor’s image, name, a quote excerpt, a link to their spot on the website and the edited audio.

Journalists as historians

SDPB’s project strived to give a voice to the people impacted by the flood in several different mediums from audio to text to video to our interactive map. Together with SDPB, we took extra care with editing stories and creating an experience that will continue to live on through future anniversaries.


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