Mapping the storytelling process

Derek Watkins, graphics editor for the New York Times, will host a talk Thursday on the University of Idaho campus about the importance of maps in storytelling. The lecture is part of the geography department’s seminar series. Previous presentations included Andrew Lohman’s “Military Geography: Its Evolution, Relevance, and Current Debates” and Oliver Walther’s “Mapping West African Trade Networks.”

Watkins was invited by Assistant Geography Professors Thomas Ptak and Steven Radil to speak about his work using geography to tell stories in the Times.

Watkins went to graduate school for geography at the University of Oregon. He has worked with the Times since an internship there in 2012.

Derek Watkins | Courtesy

“Graphics are a useful way to communicate,” Watkins said. “They answer a lot of questions geography tends to be concerned with, such as how things relate to one another, how locations on Earth are connected, and how things can be connected in ways people might not expect.”

Watkins said he hopes students will find it interesting to learn about this unique career path and the importance of visual literacy and communication. He said he looks forward to meeting those who attend and hearing their perspectives.

The lecture will be held Thursday, Nov. 29 at 3:30 p.m. in McClure Hall room 209.

Alexis Van Horn can be reached at and on Twitter @AlexisRVanHorn.


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