The power of a graphic

05Mar08

x-plane has posted an excerpt of a conversation with the graphics editor at the New York Times, Steve Duenes. He manages a department of 30 journalists who research and create the diagrams, maps and charts for the newspaper and the Web site. This comment from a reader is what the x-plane folks have highlighted. It shows how important a good information graphic can be:

In september I traveled with bill gates to africa to look at his work fighting aids there. while setting the trip up, it emerged that his initial interest in giving pots of money to fight disease had arisen after he and melinda read a two-part series of articles I did on third world disease in January 1997. until then, their plan had been to give money mainly to get countries wired and full of computers.

bill and melinda recently reread those pieces, and said that it was the second piece in the series, about bad water and diarrhea killing millions of kids a year, that really got them thinking of public health. Great! I was really proud of this impact that my worldwide reporting and 3,500-word article had had. But then bill confessed that actually it wasn’t the article itself that had grabbed him so much — it was the graphic. It was just a two column, inside graphic, very simple, listing third world health problems and how many people they kill. but he remembered it after all those years and said that it was the single thing that got him redirected toward public health.

No graphic in human history has saved so many lives in africa and asia.

Check out some of the link to infographics at the right and see what stories you might be able to tell in your publication that can affect such a change.

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