OLD Media Moves

How the FT is using data visualization to track the pandemic

May 13, 2020

Posted by Chris Roush

John Burn-Murdoch of The Financial Times talked with Andy Kirk of Explore Explain to discuss its data visualization strategy.

The Financial Times’ “Coronavirus Tracked” page has been evolving alongside the outbreak since February 2020.

Burn-Murdoch is a senior data visualization journalist at the Financial Times. “This is a story where numbers are everything,” he said about the pandemic.

“We don’t try to make graphics for other content,” said Burn-Murdoch. “We try to make graphics that tell stories.”

He added that the pandemic is a major world story that the Financial Times felt was growing in scale and importance that needed an individual page to track.

“By the first week of February, this was largely comprised to China, but it was going to become something that was going to grow and grow,” said Burn-Murdoch.

“We’re a newsroom that covers all news,” added Burn-Murdoch. “We have a huge politics team…this was a story that we would be covering whether or not it had major impact on economies.”

The FT staff has been working together without long-term planning. Initially, two colleagues — Cale Tilford and Steven Bernard — maintained the page. The maps on the page are a relatively new innovation for the newspaper because they are dynamic and read data put in by staffers on a daily basis.

Other colleagues write the text for the page.

“All of us are involved in conversations on a daily basis,” said Burn-Murdoch, noting that they use Slack and video chat to talk.

To listen to the interview, go here.




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