Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Low-tech visualization: How much space newspaper front pages used to cover hurricanes

Many of my students get a bit overwhelmed at the beginning of each semester by the amount and variety of tools we use in class. I decided to show them that sometimes you can create pretty neat visualizations with rather pedestrian techniques, such as drawing basic shapes in programs like InkScape or Adobe Illustrator.

I spent a couple of hours today designing the two graphics below. They depict the space devoted to the threat and consequences of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in the past month on the front pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post. I first downloaded all cover images from both websites, and then drew the rectangles over them. Colors correspond to the region or regions that are most prominently mentioned on each story.

To see these in high resolution (ai, pdf, svg,) go to this folder. Feel free to use them.

UPDATE: Lynn Cherny and Moritz Stefaner have just told me that designer Krisztina Szűcs did something similar a while ago. It looks great. Check it out.


  1. Oh wow that looks like a lot of work and nowhere near just 2 hours of it, you're very talented. Hope the kids learn a thing or two from this. Keep up the good work.