Thursday, March 19, 2020

The most-read story ever published by the Washington Post online is a visualization (and other reasons why your organization should invest in a graphics team)

Poynter informs that the most-read piece ever published in the Washington Post's website is a visualization-driven story, the now famous coronavirus simulator, by Harry Stevens.

(Poynter's story is very good; see also this tweet by WaPo's media columnist Paul Farhi, confirming the news.)

Here are a few more factoids for you, without trying to be exhaustive:

In 2013 the most-read piece in The New York Times online was the dialect map, How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk, which still is “one of the most popular in The Times’s digital history.” And remember Snow Fall?

ProPublica's Scott Klein has just told me that “about half of our traffic that goes to journalism on our site is to news apps,” which are databases and visualizations. Back in 2010, the Texas Tribune wrote that their applications account for “a third of the site's overall traffic.”

The Financial Times's graphs and maps about the coronavirus are becoming wildly popular, and for good reason: they are excellent, overall.

I predict that the flatten-the-curve visual explanation—read about it here and here—will become the most iconic image of 2020, and one of the most influential graphics ever made.

I could go on an on.

It's puzzling to me, then, that so many organizations—not just news organizations—are reluctant to invest in a data and graphics team, or to give it the power, resources, and autonomy it needs to thrive. What are you thinking?

(Also, Pulitzer Prize Board, it's about time to create a category this type of work, don't you think?)