OLD Media Moves

Graphics and data visualization at the Financial Times

August 18, 2016

Posted by Chris Roush

FT Brexit graphicData visualization editor Alan Smith writes about how graphs and data visualization are used at the Financial Times.

Smith writes, “At the Financial Times, we have developed a learning resource inspired by the Graphic Continuum. The FT Visual Vocabulary is at the core of a newsroom-wide training session aimed at improving chart literacy. This is not an attempt to teach everyone how to make charts, but how to recognise the opportunities to use them effectively alongside words.

“Meanwhile, for Mr Schwabish, the success of the Graphic Continuum generated a ‘logical pivot’ into more general presentation skills for researchers. Having left CBO, he has works at the Urban Institute, a non-profit research institution in Washington, DC, and has set up a data visualisation and presentation skills company, PolicyViz. He has also written a book, Better Presentations: A Guide for Scholars, Researchers and Wonks , to be published in November.

“Amid talk of the ‘post-truth’ era, he finds it ‘terribly depressing and maddening’ to see science and evidence being brushed aside on a regular basis. The solution? Maybe a fresh look at the school curriculum: ‘Do people really need to learn calculus? Maybe not, but everybody needs to be able to open a newspaper and understand a margin of error.’

“According to Mr Schwabish, ’emotions trumping facts may be just human nature’: the popularity of the FT Brexit scatter plot might be a case of a chart striking a chord with readers at an emotional time. But that should not discourage us from striving to introduce graphics, statistics and probability to people much earlier in their education.”

Read more here.

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