Flood maps and charts

May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

national weather service flood monitor

The National Weather Service posts readings from river flood gauges to its Web site every 15 minutes. You can download the files as KMZ or SHP files to build your own maps. Below, an example of a map from the Wall Street Journal using this data.

You can also download the readings from individual flood gauges to build charts showing when flood waters will crest at a particular location.

national weather service flood stageE

Example from the Wall Street Journal


SSND online design winners

April 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Student Society for News Design announced its awards for online design April 19. Syracuse and Missouri had strong showings. (Above is the splash page from Syracuse student David Miller’s piece, “Jerry’s Cabin.”

Among the winners:

Infographics http://apartfromwar.news21.com/stories/jerrys-cabin-veteran-home-infographic

Web sites:

Gas prices

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

When gas prices begin to rise, news organizations typically begin to track the costs over time and across the nation, as shown in this 2006 Washington Post map above. The AAA Fuel Gauge Report (http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com) provides these state-level prices daily. It also offers them by metro area if you need to make a more localized comparison.

Charts from the AAA Fuel Gauge site:


For historical prices, you need to go to the Energy Information Administration’s Petroleum Navigator (http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pri_gnd_dcus_nus_w.htm), which gives weekly gas prices for more than a decade.

Circles of influence

November 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

For years, the Washington Post has produced “inner circle” charts that portray the individuals surrounding powerful political figures, such as President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and now Republican Leader John Boehner.


The diagrams show levels of influence as concentric rings, and categories, such as staff or college classmates, as wedges of the circle. The graphics reporter assembling the diagram needs a deep knowledge of the politician in order to assign a level of influence to each associate. The connections and coalitions are equally hard to arrange and often require reliable sources near to the politician to help with the placement.

The final trick is to get photographs of the dozens of people in the diagram, many of whom may be obscure despite their connections to powerful people.

Drone strikes in Pakistan

October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment


The New America Foundation’s Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative has emerged as the accountant of drone strikes in Pakistan, much like how Iraq Body Count and iCasualties have served as the keepers of the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Above is a Wall Street Journal graphic using the New America Foundation’s count. New America bases its figures on news accounts. It provides the date and location of each strike, as well as number of reported deaths and the name of the militant targeted.


Their count shows a spike in drone attacks in September as the CIA stepped up strikes to knock out a suspected terror plot against European targets.

Below, a portion of the drone strike Google map New America maintains.

Where dogs come from

September 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

Wired magazine has championed infographics since its founding in 1993. (Wired calls them infoporn.) I like dogs, so this diagram from Wired’s September 2010 edition had special appeal. The family tree approach works well until it gets to the designer breeds of the past 20 years. Rather than chart an illegible tangle of crossing breed lines, the designers cut the Gordian knot and tucked the new breeds into the bottom right corner.

I wish the diagram gave the source of the information. The article cites the American Kennel Club on the number of breeds in existence, but it’s not clear they gave the information for a family tree. Design collective Always With Honor (http://alwayswithhonor.com/) made the graphic for Wired.

The oil spill on Flickr

June 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

BP has done one thing right. They host high-resolution photographs and diagrams of their plans for stopping the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on a Flickr Pro account, which allows them to display images as large as 20 megabytes. (When you go to the Flickr site, choose “original” size to get the full-resolution image.)

The Deepwater Horizon response page is here: http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931/

And their Flickr page is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deepwaterhorizonresponse/

These files have served as the base material for numerous news information graphics. Below are some examples from the Wall Street Journal:


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