Tag Archives: data visualization

Data viz: News media struggle to convey gun story

By Christopher B. Daly 

The recurring American nightmare of mass shootings presents many challenges to the news media who must cover them. This New York Times story gives a glimpse into one of the challenges, as the paper deployed about 40 journalists to cover the shootings in Parkland, Fla.

Another challenge falls to the talented people who work in the newsroom specialty known as data visualization. They struggle to make isolated facts tell stories. Here are two recent efforts that make essentially the same point in slightly different ways:

The first is from NPR, a bar chart:

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 4.39.32 PM

This one is from the Times, a scatter plot:

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 4.40.18 PM

I lean toward the scatter plot myself in this case. Oddly, here is a version of the scatter plot, minus all the words and legends. In an way, it’s even more eloquent than the version the Times posted online.




Leave a comment

Filed under data journalism, Journalism, New York Times, Uncategorized

Data viz: 19th Century Edition

By Christopher B. Daly 

Thanks to TNR and this terrific piece by Susan Schulten about two very powerful maps that could have (and should have) shaped the settlement of the United States. Essentially, they tell the same story: do not attempt European-style agriculture west of the long-grass Great Plains. 

Here’s a map made by the great one-armed Western explorer John Wesley Powell for the U.S. Geological Survey:


In it, he drew a north-south line from the middle of North Dakota to Houston and warned against even attempting to farm those areas (except for the far West Coast). The wonderfully colored areas depict the watersheds of the region’s major rivers.


And here’s an earlier map showing rainfall totals across the country. Again, the message is pretty clear.

U.S. rain chart

U.S. rain chart




Filed under history

Fun with maps: Visualizing global wealth

By Christopher B. Daly 

Here is a terrific map that uses data visualization to dramatize the disparities in how well-off people are around the world. The map-makers at Worldmapper redrew the size of each country based on its per-capita GDP.

In the map below, several things stand out:

1. The bulging size of the USA compared to other countries.

2. That big purple area on the right is not China but Japan (which is much wealthier per capita).

3. Although it is is geographically huge, Africa practically vanishes (followed closely by South America).

Per-capita GDP by Worldmapper

Per-capita GDP
by Worldmapper

h/t to Vox for pointing to this.


Filed under Uncategorized