Brian Jacobs

National Geographic, OpenNews

Brian Jacobs is a Senior Graphics Editor who designs and develops interactive maps and graphics for National Geographic Magazine. Brian uses open source visualization and data processing tools to create and envision custom editorial experiences across platforms. He was previously a Knight-Mozilla fellow at ProPublica, where he worked on "Losing Ground", an interactive story about the slow-motion environmental catastrophe taking place in southeast Louisiana. Find him at @btjakes.

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Brian’s work on Source


  1. How We Made Cassini’s Grand Tour
  2. How We Made Losing Ground
  3. Reporting from the Youngest Land on Earth
  4. Meet FCC Squishify and OpenImage
  5. How to Make a News App in Two Days
  6. Lessons from the ProPublica/OpenNews Popup News Apps Team

Articles by Brian

  1. How We Made “Billions of Birds Migrate”

    National Geographic’s web-based takeoff on the classic bird migration print poster

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    National Geographic’s enormous bird migration interactive and how it came to be.

  2. How We Made Cassini’s Grand Tour

    Boldly go on a journey through National Geographic’s 3D Cassini visualization

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    How National Geographic made a visualization of Cassini’s trip through the Saturn system.

  3. How We Resurrected a Dragon

    Bringing a 110-million-year old fossil to life for National Geographic, by asking the internet

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    A 3D dinosaur, brought to life for National Geographic.

  4. How We Made “Rewind the Red Planet”

    Telling the story of a planet, on a human scale

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    The mini-series Mars, that aired on the National Geographic Channel in November 2016, imagined what it would be like to live on Mars in the near future. For the interactive narrative Rewind the Red Planet, we endeavored to show Mars as it was before it was a red desert, back to a time when liquid water may have run freely, between three and four billion years ago. We wanted to allow readers to see ancient Mars in its entirety from a planetary scale, how it may have featured a vast northern ocean, or may have had water trapped in expansive glaciers.

  5. How We Made Losing Ground

    Harmonizing satellite imagery, historical maps, academic data sources, and more in one big, beautiful feature

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    How we tracked down, processed, filtered, revisualized, mashed up, and otherwise handled a boatload of disparate imagery to map changes in the Louisiana coastline backward and forward in time.

  6. Reporting from the Youngest Land on Earth

    How We Got Aerial Photographs for Our Project on Louisiana’s Effort to Save Its Southeastern Coast

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    How ProPublica and The Lens got the aerial photos they needed to produce Losing Ground.

  7. Lessons from the ProPublica/OpenNews Popup News Apps Team

    Process, Realistic Expectations, and Building a Team in Two Days

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    More things learned about process, expectations, and how to build a functioning team in two days, from Dan Sinker and the 2014 OpenNews Fellows.

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