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UK’s Daily Mirror Blogs Infographics

December 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Ampp3d — launched in November — makes “journalism more accessible through data visualisations.”

The Ampp3d  blog  focuses on the Daily Mirror’s “charts, graphs, facts, figures and … infographics” by collecting and presenting in one place the data visualizations published in the Mirror. Ammp3d demonstrates that infographics do not need to be elaborate to add impact to a story and satisfy readers. It is one of many examples of journalists using graphics to appeal to younger audiences (and help with the ever-important subscriber figures).

Mirror-Tax graph

Here’s everything you need to know about Beyoncé, in numbers.

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Overstacking Bars

Mint goes too far with a stacked column chart

Mint-IncomeDistributionStackBar

This stacked column chart is certainly pretty, but falls down on usability. It does not make it easy to compare income levels across states. Reading across the bottom it works for the lowest income group and reading across the top it works for the highest. For the five groups in between it does not work at all because there is no common point of reference. It is very difficult to compare an inner bar to any other inner bar.

This infographic would be less pretty, but far more useful if each group was displayed in its own row with a common zero line. Then the eye could easily scan across to spot the highs and lows.

The lesson is that a stacked column or bar chart can be useful at times, but only when a small number of comparisons are made or when the differences among the bars is very evident. Otherwise, don’t do it!

The Power of Showing Not Telling

The new book “An Illustrated Guide to Income in the United States” presents a comprehensive collection of infographics, maps and charts looking at the history of incomes and occupations in the United States.

Data can be a powerful persuader. Instead of pages and pages of text spoon feeding the reader with conclusions, this book presents a large dataset in a format that empowers the reader to study the data itself to draw their own independent conclusions.

IncomeGuide_2013_page 34

New distribution technology is empowering too… the entire book can be read online for free. It can also be purchased as a PDF for $15, paperback + PDF for $42.50, or hardback + pdf for $60.

Graphics Gone Viral

Animated infographic becomes a YouTube star

Over 4,000,000 views and 17,000 comments and steadily rising. Animated column chart with narration makes its point dramatically.

Quarters Don’t Compare

Calendar quarters are not really comparable

Fortune’s CNN Money takes a closer look at Mac sales and discovers that what appears to be a decline is actually the opposite  Wall Street forecasters are projecting a quarter-on-quarter decline in Mac sales for Q1 2013. This looks bad for Apple, but a closer look reveals that it really isn’t so.

MacUnitSalesByQuarters

Taking these numbers at face value does not take into account that Q1 last year had 14 weeks, not the usual 13. Adjusting for the number of weeks in the quarter produces a increase in sales from 5 to 10 percent — a big difference in conclusion.

So when comparing quarters, be sure that you are comparing apples to apples.

A Very Distorted Cartogram Map

NPR Maps Election Spending

A cartogram map scales geography proportionately according to some value of interest. Usually cartograms maintain the shape and relative position of the basic map as much as possible.

Maintaining a recognizable map of the US was a problem for this cartogram because political spending is so heavily concentrated in just a few states. This shrunk all the other states to the point of becoming almost invisible and certainly made them unrecognizable.

NPR’s solution was to turn the cartogram into an animation. Starting with an undistorted US map, NPR then morphed the US to show the highly distorted spending picture shown here.

Consistency is Essential

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism produces a less than excellent graph

Readers are often in a hurry and they appreciate the use of graphics to communicate quickly. Graphic artists must be careful to not mislead a reader who does not have the time to carefully scrutinize and interpret a simple graph. The problem with this pie chart is that a quick glance creates the impression that the Kindle Fire has a market share of 21%. A more careful inspection reveals that the correct value is about 10%.

Most readers will assume that all the callouts in a single pie chart will refer to the whole pie (100%). In this pie chart the 21% callout refers to the 48% slice. This misleads the reader. Don’t do this!