The Economist's visual data journalist fixes magazine's "crimes against data visualisation"

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My Ph.D. advisor had the rule “No Time Magazine plots!”


“Visual Data Journalist” is a very cool title. I’m a “Web Developer at a mid-to-large tier Early Childhood Non-profit” and I love my job, and still don’t quite know how I ended up here. I feel like, as late as senior year of high school, I’d still only heard of “Firefighter”, “Teacher”, “President” and “Marine biologist”…


So you never had the awkward conversation with your parents: Mommy, where do websites come from?


The so-called “Better” version says '000 when they probably mean x1000. Unless that’s some sort of English thing, that’s not really better.


Go Sarah, GO!!

As a designer myself, and a fan of Tufte, I am continually disgusted and dismayed by poorly presented numbers, ideas, and relationships in garish, cutesy, chart-junkified ‘grafix’.



I have snarkily emailed Vox with a corrected version of this abomination of a chart twice now. It has exactly the same problem (but much more egregious).

They never replied, although they seem to have drawn a new chart fixing the main problem with the old one (first chart on this page)


I don’t really see a problem with that chart. I suppose the new one is better because they change the orientation of the icon they use to represent units, thus they don’t have to stack them up.

In general, charts and graphs are good for information at a glance. But they can also skew our perception of data because of the way we process information. Even if everything is drawn to scale, iconography used, colors, even the order can leave one with only a partial understanding of what the data shows.

I had to do the same thing the example in the post shows, with a break in the data line. The difference in values of data would have made the rest of it really hard to read. We opted to show off the 64 other data points. She won first prize at the science fair.

Crystal Project 2.pdf (2.4 MB)

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agreed. How hard would it have been to put a K after each number? Or add “in thousands” to the headline?

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