A history: Asian carp takover the Chicago River

With the help of a timeline generator through the Knight Lab completing a timeline for Dan Egan's investigative piece on Asian carp and the great lakes ecology was relatively simple. Background research and a few technical errors proved to be the challenge. This Timeline is based on previous and new research pertaining to Asian carp and the influence on the Chicago River and Great Lakes basin. 

Our mindset in building a graphic was location oriented. Since the biggest influencer of Asian Carp migration relies on the rivers connecting the Great Lakes to the rest of the nation, moving the timeline along a river is the visual goal. However, completing this in a timely manner made us focus on the use of a simpler timeline for the time being. 

Our group’s visual ideas for the Sentinels projects team were based on two map-based graphics. Hypothetically, our first idea would include multiple layers on a single map; one layer for Asian carp history, one layer for Chicago River history and a third melding the two together. The second idea would be more complex using a parallax scrolling method which would allow for multiple visuals to interact creating a moving timeline as readers scroll through a page. During a Journal Sentinel projects meeting our group presented these timeline data sets as well as visual ideas with designers and web producers in order to gauge if and how our graphic plans could work.  

As a student journalist I had never experienced background research such as this. The minimal investigative pieces that I have participated in required looking into data on Marquette or certain Milwaukee communities. This was a whole different level. And although we only participated in researching for an interactive timeline graphic I believe I can honestly say I got a taste of how an enterprise piece or series would develop. Overall, Egan was both informative and attentive to our progress when needed, but he also knew that in order for us to understand how a story like this works we have to get into the research ourselves making it a worthwhile learning experience.