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IEEE Visualization Graphics Technical CommitteeIEEEIEEE CS

Sunday, 8:30AM - 10:10AM:

Visualizing Data for the Masses: Information Graphics at The New York Times
Matthew Ericson , Deputy Graphics Director, The New York Times

Matthew Ericson portrait Abstract

How can information visualization be used to explain the news to a mass audience? Each day, The New York Times uses information graphics in print and on the Web to present data, tell stories and make information more understandable for more than a million readers. Recently, for example, data visualization has been used to help explain subjects as varied as the role of political contributions in the presidential campaign, the changing face of the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, problems in the American car industry, and Barry Bonds's pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record.

Data visualization at a newspaper presents unique challenges. Many readers are not used to thinking visually. Deadlines can be as short as a few hours. Graphics editors have to be knowledgeable on a wide range of topics, so when news breaks, they can quickly report and produce interesting graphics.

In this talk, I'll explain the process behind information graphics at The Times, from choosing which stories to explain visually, reporting and visualizing data, and marshalling to staff of 30 editors, reporters and cartographers to make InfoVis understandable by a mass audience.


Matthew Ericson is the deputy graphics director at The New York Times, where he helps oversee a staff of 30 journalists who produce information graphics for the printed newspaper and interactive pieces for He joined the Times in March 2003 as the national graphics editor and has produced graphics on a wide variety of topics including the War in Iraq, the 2004 and 2006 Elections, and the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Before coming to the Times, he was a graphic artist and web site editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer.