Who holds Greek debt?

July 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

With Greece heading toward default on its debt, many news organizations are looking at who would pick up the tab. This New York Times chart breaks down how much Greek debt each country holds. The data comes from the Bank for International Settlements, which coordinates international financial services regulations and serves as a bank for central banks.

The BIS maintains a vast menu of statistics, so here is the exact location where you would find these figures:

Go to the BIS site’s Consolidated Banking Statistics page (http://www.bis.org/statistics/consstats.htm.)
Scroll down to the bottom, where you will see a link to Table 9E Foreign exposures on selected individual countries, ultimate risk basis. Note that not all countries will be listed in the data.


Historical election results

June 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

This scatterplot from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times (http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/on-the-maddeningly-inexact-relationship-between-unemployment-and-re-election/) suggests there is no correlation between unemployment and a president’s re-election chances. I haven’t seen many news charts that set out to show a lack of correlation, but in this case it’s compelling. I also haven’t seen many scatterplots where the horizonal axis sits in the middle of the chart rather than the bottom, but it worked here and you can follow the chart easily.

While this is a great chart, what I really want to point out is the source of the election results. (This is Seth’s Sources after all!) Rather than the Federal Election Commission or Politics in America or whatnot, they come from David Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (http://uselectionatlas.org/) When I first stumbled onto this source many years ago, I thought it was too homegrown and unofficial to use as a primary source. My opinion changed quickly. That’s the crazy thing about the Internet: someone who begins a Web site as an enthusiast or hobbyist can end up building a more complete, accurate and useful set of data than anything offered by the government or major publishers. Time and again, media organizations turn to David Leip’s atlas for historical election stats.

The atlas provides stats back to 1789. In addition to standard vote counts, you can get the size of the voting age population, turnout as a percentage of voting age population or registered voters, number of invalid ballots and a number of other statistics.

Mortgage-rate data

September 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’m trying to buy a house right now, which has me fixated on mortgage rates. So I asked a colleague where I could find stats on average mortgage rates. She pointed me toward the websites of HSH Associates (http://www.hsh.com/mtghst.html), which is the source for the New York times chart above, and Freddie Mac (http://www.freddiemac.com/pmms/.)

You can see from the two charts below that the Wall Street Journal uses both sources.

The two sources conduct their own surveys, so their information won’t match, although they will show the same general trend. With mortgage rates scraping bottom, expect to see plenty of 30-year-rate charts in the news in coming months.

iPad news apps

May 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

The iPad has sent many news graphics departments back to the drawing board as they adapt to an Adobe Flash-free environment. But which newsrooms have produced an iPad product that can compare with a dead-tree reading experience? Giovanni Calabro, writing for Fast Company, provides a head-to-head comparison of the iPad apps from USA Today, NPR, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Guess which one wins?


Movie sites

March 8, 2010 § Leave a comment


Erin Aigner used an interesting source for the basis of this map: the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. http://www.nyc.gov/html/film/html/locations/sets_city.shtml

The map shows New York shooting locations of Oscar-nominated films based on the permits that the films’ producers had to file with the city. While some film locations are listed on the office’s Web site, the information is not complete or up to date. It’s unclear how much legwork Aigner needed to do to get the information needed for the map.

Netflix maps and normalization

January 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

Companies collect detailed information on user’s habits, and sometimes they’re willing to share it with visual journalists. In this case, Neftflix provided The New York Times with movie rankings by Zip code, which the Times turned into noteworthy infographics in print and online on Jan. 10.

A key to making graphics like this work is “normalization.” Let me explain: If you chose to map the NUMBER OF TIMES “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” was rented in each town, that is not normalized. One town might have more people in it than another, so you end up measuring the number of people in each town more than your are measuring the popularity of the movie.

Mapping the RANKING of the movie takes care of this. A heat map showing a movie’s ranking in each location would provide similar results to a heat map showing the number of times a movie was rented in each location divided by the location’s population. (Or at least that’s my theory. I don’t have the data on hand to prove it.)

Another interesting thing to point out about the graphic: The print and online versions were vastly different. I first read the print version in the newspaper’s Sunday Metropolitan section. (Sorry, can’t link to it since it’s a full-page print graphic. I’ll just have to describe.) It showcased a large map of the New York metro region that showed which Zip codes favored “Frost/Nixon,” “Pineapple Express” or “Obsessed.” Below it were six small heat maps of the same region that showed the rankings of six movies.

The online version, which you can see at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/01/10/nyregion/20100110-netflix-map.html?ref=nyregion lets you scroll through the top 50 Netflix movies nationwide and see heat maps of their rankings in 12 Metro areas.

This is a good example of how visual journalists have to adjust their print and online presentations to fit the strengths of both media.

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