The Grenfell Fire

This weekend, the New York Times published an online piece explaining the spread of the Grenfell Tower fire in London. The story uses small animated graphics and videos to show the origin and progression of the fire from an exploding refrigerator on the fourth floor to its trapping of residents on the 23rd and final floor.

Where it began
Where it began

 

Credit for the piece goes to Troy Griggs, Mika Gröndahl, Josh Keller, Jamine C. Lee, Anjali Singhvi, Megan Specia, Derek Watkins, and Jeremy White.

The Insurance Exchanges

There is a lot to unpack about last Thursday and Sunday. But before we dive into that, a little story from the New York Times that caught my eye from Friday.

Where there are no real options
Where there are no real options

The map shows the counties in the United States where there is one health insurer and no health insurer. Further on in the piece a small multiple gallery shows that progression from 2014 and highlights how the drastic changes are seen only in 2017 and 2018.

The problem is often not that people cannot buy insurance if no insurers are in the marketplace. The marketplace is for federally-subsidised coverage and insureres appear to be moving to offering policies outside the marketplace for non-subsidised customers.

The White House claims Obamacare is in a death spiral. It is not. But after seven years it could use a little maintenance.

Credit for the piece goes to Haeyoun Park and Audrey Carlsen.

Rising Rate of US Drug Deaths

While today’s post is not an uplifting story, I did find it remarkable in its presentation. Nothing too fancy or revolutionary to be certain, but remarkable nonetheless. What was it? This morning when I picked up the Times there was a chart in black and red, above the fold, below the cover photo.

The story is about the rising number of deaths in the United States attributed to drugs. And, no, the line chart is not groundbreaking—though I do love the way the designers cut into the space to efficiently set copy and annotations. But as an above-the-fold graphic this morning, it did the trick.

Again, I like the layout of the piece
Again, I like the layout of the piece

Credit for the piece goes to Josh Katz.

Maps and Legends

First, great song by R.E.M.

Second, you may recall a post last week where I shared some work by FiveThirtyEight about life expectancy. In particular I liked the set of small multiples. However, the New York Times just took what I liked and upped it a slight notch.

Maybe he's caught in the legend…
Maybe he’s caught in the legend…

Every small multiple set needs a legend to explain just what the user is looking at. What the Times did is integrate that legend into the Alaska multiple. And it can do that because of Alaska’s position in the upper-left, or northwest, portion of the “map” as a non-contiguous part of the United States.

Clever.

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.

Trump’s Polling

My battery is about to die this morning and I don’t have my charger so this is going to be a shorter piece than usual. But I wanted to look back on the 100 Day polling that the New York Times posted. It does paint an interesting picture of somebody so polarising that Trump is probably safe despite being one of the least favourably viewed presidents in modern times. Why? Because his supporters are so fervently loyal.

Not only is Trump low, he's low historically
Not only is Trump low, he’s low historically

But that piece is almost a month old now. And so I wanted to point out something that FiveThirtyEight is doing—a running tracker of Trump’s polling. I am sure I will return to it in the future, after all we have over three and a half years to go until the next four year presidential term begins.

Trump is pretty low…
Trump is pretty low…

Credit for the piece goes to Karen Yourish and Paul Murray for the Times and Aaron Bycoffe, Dhrumil Mehta, and Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight.

Where in the World Is North Korea?

Donald Trump and I have one thing in common today. Boy are we both glad today is finally Friday—what a week.

So in that vein, let us keep it semi-light today with a piece from the New York Times that I saw earlier this week. Before we share the screenshot, however, I should point out that there have been studies showing a relationship between knowing who is where in the world and an understanding that geopolitics are complex and messy. From the article:

Geographic knowledge itself may contribute to an increased appreciation of the complexity of geopolitical events.

So when it comes to North Korea, there are interesting correlations between policy options and people who could either find or not find North Korea on a map. The article is really worth the read.

But enough, where did users click to identify the location of North Korea?

North Korea, it's also where Carmen Sandiego has been hiding alongside Waldo all these years
North Korea, it’s also where Carmen Sandiego has been hiding alongside Waldo all these years

Yeah.

I wonder where Donald Trump clicked…

Credit for the piece goes to Kevin Quealy.

North Korea’s Latest Missile Test

If you missed it—and these days that is entirely possible—over the weekend, North Korea tested yet another missile. It did land very far away as it fell just off the coast of North Korea near Russia.

But it did travel far enough away to be of concern. Why? Well, this print graphic from the New York Times does a great job showing what that missile test really tested.

Creeping towards the West Coast
Creeping towards the West Coast

I want to end on a geography lesson for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those little dots in the upper right part of the circle? Those are the Aleutian Islands. They are like that island in the Pacific known as Oahu, which is part of the state of Hawaii. The Aleutians are part of the state of Alaska, which is, you know, one of the 50 states. Just trying to help you out, sir. So if you ask why we care about defending those islands in the Pacific, well now you know.

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.

Comey Contradictions

Last week was crazy, am I right? But one thing that made complete sense was President Trump’s rationale for firing FBI Director James Comey.

And to prove just how much of a logical, straight-line reasoning there was we have this graphic from Sunday’s edition of the New York Times.

The complete graphic.
The complete graphic.

Okay, so maybe that is not quite such a straight line.

I want to excerpt the bottom half because it clearly shows the contradictions—the top half merely establishes the statements to be contradicted.

Yep. It's all very clear.
Yep. It’s all very clear.

I particularly like the use of the blue lines and bold set type to distinguish from the linear narrative of the administration. But what makes it work are the concisely written blurbs that detail just what the contradiction was.

Credit for the piece goes to Alicia Parlapiano, Stuart A. Thompson, and Wilson Andrews.

The US Airline Industry

Yesterday Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, testified to Congress about the airline industry. All of this just a few weeks after such a great week of press coverage. Of course, the last few weeks have also been a wee bit busy, so I was unable to post today’s piece. But with Munoz’s testimony it makes the perfect segue.

Today’s piece is a graphic article from the New York Times. It examines the state of the US airline industry. I use the term graphic article, because outside of headlines and subheads, it uses few words. Instead the point of the article is conveyed via charts. And what I found really nice is that, as the below photo shows, the article comprised most of the front page of the Business section.

The overall layout of the page
The overall layout of the page

In terms of the structure, the piece did a nice job of giving breathing space around the various elements. This helps focus the reader’s attention on the charts and the data therein. Long headers and subheads break the vertical flow and create sentences or paragraphs that the charts prove.

The graphics above the fold
The graphics above the fold

But then we get below the fold and low and behold we have a pie chart. I would have probably used a bar chart to show the market share. Especially with the top-three airlines so close. On the other hand, I can see the argument for the large, colour-filled visual. It does a nice job balancing the area charts at the opening and puts an emphatic period at the end of the piece.

And then below the fold
And then below the fold

Overall, a solid piece and one that I am glad occupied a significant portion of the Business section front page.

Credit for the piece goes to Karl Russel.

When France Is More Than France

Yesterday we looked at the result of, but today I want to talk about covering of the French presidential election. It dovetails nicely with a recent story here in the states about Hawaii.

Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticised a court ruling because it came from a judge “on some island in the Pacific”. That island, of course, is Oahu. Oahu is one of several islands that comprise the state of Hawaii, including the eponymous island. But it does not matter that the state is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is one of the fifty states of the union. And in terms of population, it isn’t even the smallest state. Should we not care about court decisions in Wyoming because so few people live there? No, because it is one of the fifty states.

Where Hawaii falls within the 50 states
Where Hawaii falls within the 50 states

Now you are likely asking, what does that have to do with the French presidential election? Well, it has to do with choropleth maps of French results. Well, most likely you were not looking at a map of the French Republic. Take this map from the New York Times.

Here be France
Here be France

It looks like France, but it’s only a part of France. Instead, we have France 24 presenting the map correctly. The thing missing? All those little geographies around the border.

The real France
The real France

You may recall that France at one point had an empire. At home, France was organised into state-like entities called departments. By contrast, the United Kingdom had an empire with its home territories organised into counties. Then in the 20th century, both empires began to dissolve. In the UK that meant independence for most places, but others transitioned from colonies to crown dependencies, e.g. Gibraltar and until 1997 Hong Kong. But technically, they are not part of the United Kingdom. (Don’t get me started on the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey.)

In France, there were some conflicts—here’s looking at you French Indochina/Vietnam—and some independence. But for those that did gain independence, the territories took a different track from the crown dependences in the UK. France integrated them into the French Republic and made them full-on departments. (It is a little bit more complicated than that, but for now we’ll keep it simple.) So now, if you visit Canada and take a day trip to St. Pierre and Miquelon, you are stepping on France. This is also different from Puerto Rico and the United States, where Puerto Rico is not fully part of the United States.

And so what does this mean for electoral purposes? Well, as you have probably figured out, this all means that French elections are geographically broader than those of the UK or the US. Gibraltar does not vote for Parliament and so you will not see it on the June election maps. In 2016, notice how you did not see Puerto Rico in the US presidential election maps. But because of how France integrated its former colonies as departments, Cayenne, French Guiana gets as much of a say on the French president as does Paris.

So remember, next time you look at a map of France on Europe, it’s like looking at a map of the United States without Alaska and Hawaii. Because France too exists on an island in the Pacific. It’s called New Caledonia.