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Welcome to Big Charts! Behind the scenes with interactive data stories
These projects are often a long, winding journey. For every story I produce, I'll write about the process – the journalism, the design, the code, and the crises
I’m a journalist who tells interactive data stories, and this newsletter will take a look behind-the-scenes at how my project are done.
I have an idealized version of how every project should go:
I report and research my story.
I write through a plan.
Then I execute that plan: coding, design, animation, etc.
It never goes that way, though.
For a long time, I thought I was doing something wrong. Why did my projects change as I started to code and design? Most people use their writing process to organize their thoughts and come up with a plan. But I often felt my stories kept shifting far after the writing process.
And then I realized something: Writing isn’t the only way to organize thoughts.
I find writing is a great tool for processing concepts and ideas; design is great tool for teasing out hierarchy and spatial patterns; data and code forces us to be more quantitative in our thinking. Linguists have long argued that language molds the way we perceive the world, and I’ve found that it’s also true of these other modes of communication.
A lot of this newsletter will be about the delicate dance between content and form. It will be about how the reporting and research shape the design – but also vice versa.
In short, I think anyone interested in storytelling will find this interesting.
Who are you?
I’m a data journalist who spent a long time in newsroom. Now I’m an assistant professor at the New School teaching data and visual journalism. Most recently I was head of visuals and data at the Guardian US, and I’ve also worked at the Wall Street Journal, Vox, the Connecticut Mirror, Boston Globe, and ESPN.
I don’t consider myself a particularly technical or artistic person. But I love telling stories, I love journalism, and I love making things. So when I can overcome the exhilarating yet horrifying experience of learning many new things, I have a dream job.
I grew up in Kansas, I have a master’s degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, and I live in Brooklyn. My favorite non-journalistic project that I’ve been a part of is The Listserve.
What kind of interactive stories have you made?
Here are some of my favorite stories:
Why the super rich are inevitable (Pudding)
The climate disaster is here (Guardian)
The search for my kimchi (Pudding)
And most recently (like literally today), I published 24 Hours in an Invisible Epidemic with the Pudding. I’ll write my first post about this story in a few days.
Can I contact you?
Yes! Email me – email@example.com.
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