Posts Tagged ‘nyt’

The Last Minutes of Flight 3407 (NY Times)

Monday, February 16th, 2009

[Editor's note: The New York Times has a good panel-based interactive following the descent and ultimate crash of Flight 3407 before it crashed on landing approach into the Buffalo Niagara International Airport last week. A touch of animation between each time slice adds a nice flourish. Steadily increasing map detail and  finally a photo realistic shot of the neighborhood reinforce the scale change and make the lack of scale bars less glaring.]

Republished from the New York Times.
Originally published: February 13, 2009.
Graphic by Xaquín G.V., Ford Fessenden, Joe Burgess, Graham Roberts

Screenshots below. View interactive version to see the transitions between each panel.

Sources: Pictometry, LiveATC.net, FlightAware, FlightView, Bombardier

Coffee Art (NY Times)

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

[Editor's note: Following up on the earlier Lego art post, here's another about coffee from the same New York Times artist.]

Republished from the New York Times.
Christoph Niemann
December 2, 2008

I like coffee so much that I have tea for breakfast: The first cup of the day in particular is so good that I’m afraid I won’t be able to properly appreciate it when I am half-asleep. Therefore, I celebrate it two hours later when I am fully conscious.

Here’s a chart that shows my coffee bias over the years.

For good measure I have added my bagel preferences over the same period. (1) Drip coffee, (2) Starbucks, (3) blueberry bagels, (4) sesame bagels, (5) poppy-seed bagels, (6) everything bagels

Please don’t hold my brief affair with blueberry bagels against me. I cured myself of this aberration.

Once, after a grueling all-day design conference at a university, I was invited to dinner on campus. To go with the various delicious pastas, salads and quiches, coffee was served.

When you are craving a beer, coffee is the most disgusting drink in the universe.

View more coffee art at the New York Times . . .

I Lego N.Y. (NY Times)

Friday, February 6th, 2009

[Editor's note: Amusing visual confections created with lego blocks by Christoph Niemann. Thanks Martin!]

Republished from The New York Times.
Christoph Niemann
February 2, 2009, 6:38 pm

During the cold and dark Berlin winter days, I [Christoph] spend a lot of time with my boys in their room. And as I look at the toys scattered on the floor, my mind inevitably wanders back to New York.

There are many more lego creations like this one. View more!

The New Journalism: Goosing the Gray Lady (NY Mag)

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

[Editor's note: Two pieces from the New York magazine profiling the New York Times Interactive News Collaborative staff, one of the strongest in the business. Thanks David and Chrys!]

Republished from the New York magazine.
By Emily Nussbaum. Published Jan 11, 2009
Related forum: Talk to the Newsroom: Interactive News Collaborative Jan. 17, 2009.

Image above: Aron Pilhofer, Andrew DeVigal, Steve Duenes, Matthew Ericson, and Gabriel Dance. (Photo: Mike McGregor)

What are these renegade cybergeeks doing at the New York Times? Maybe saving it.

On the day Barack Obama was elected, a strange new feature appeared on the website of the New York Times. Called the Word Train, it asked a simple question: What one word describes your current state of mind? Readers could enter an adjective or select from a menu of options. They could specify whether they supported McCain or Obama. Below, the results appeared in six rows of adjectives, scrolling left to right, coded red or blue, descending in size of font. The larger the word, the more people felt that way.

All day long, the answers flowed by, a river of emotion—anonymous, uncheckable, hypnotic. You could click from Obama to McCain and watch the letters shift gradually from blue to red, the mood changing from giddy, energized, proud, and overwhelmed to horrified, ambivalent, disgusted, and numb.

It was a kind of poll. It was a kind of art piece. It was a kind of journalism, but what kind?

This past year has been catastrophic for the New York Times. Advertising dropped off a cliff. The stock sank by 60 percent, and by fall, the paper had been rated a junk investment, announced plans to mortgage its new building, slashed dividends, and, as of last week, was printing ads on the front page. So dire had the situation become, observers began to entertain thoughts about whether the enterprise might dissolve entirely—Michael Hirschorn just published a piece in The Atlantic imagining an end date of (gulp) May. As this bad news crashed down, the jackals of Times hatred—right-wing ideologues and new-media hecklers alike—ate it up, finding confirmation of what they’d said all along: that the paper was a dinosaur, incapable of change, maddeningly assured as it sank beneath the weight of its own false authority.

And yet, even as the financial pages wrote the paper’s obit, deep within that fancy Renzo Piano palace across from the Port Authority, something hopeful has been going on: a kind of evolution. Each day, peculiar wings and gills poke up on the Times’ website—video, audio, “drillable” graphics. Beneath Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed column, there’s a link to his blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, and YouTube videos. Coverage of Gaza features a time line linking to earlier reporting, video coverage, and an encyclopedic entry on Hamas. Throughout the election, glittering interactive maps let readers plumb voting results. There were 360-degree panoramas of the Democratic convention; audio “back story” with reporters like Adam Nagourney; searchable video of the debates. It was a radical reinvention of the Times voice, shattering the omniscient God-tones in which the paper had always grounded its coverage; the new features tugged the reader closer through comments and interactivity, rendering the relationship between reporter and audience more intimate, immediate, exposed.

Despite the swiftness of these changes, certainly compared with other newspapers’, their significance has been barely noted. That’s the way change happens on the web: The most startling experiments are absorbed in a day, then regarded with reflexive complacency. But lift your hands out of the virtual Palmolive and suddenly you recognize what you’ve been soaking in: not a cheap imitation of a print newspaper but a vastly superior version of one. It may be the only happy story in journalism.

I met with members of the teams that created the Word Train in a glass-walled conference room, appropriate for their fishbowl profession. There was Gabriel Dance, the multimedia producer, a talkative 27-year-old with two earrings and a love of The Big Lebowski. There were Matt Ericson and Steve Duenes from graphics, deadpan veterans who create the site’s interactive visuals—those pretty maps that conceal many file cabinets stuffed with data. And there was Aron Pilhofer, a skeptical career print journalist with “nerd tendencies,” one of the worried men who helped spearhead this mini-renaissance.

“It was surprisingly easy to make the case,” says Pilhofer, describing what he calls the “pinch-me meeting” that occurred in August 2007, when Pilhofer and Ericson sat down with deputy managing editor Jonathan Landman and Marc Frons, the CTO of Times Digital, to lobby for intervention into the Times’ online operation—swift investment in experimental online journalism before it was too late.

“The proposal was to create a newsroom: a group of developers-slash-journalists, or journalists-slash-developers, who would work on long-term, medium-term, short-term journalism—everything from elections to NFL penalties to kind of the stuff you see in the Word Train.” This team would “cut across all the desks,” providing a corrective to the maddening old system, in which each innovation required months for permissions and design. The new system elevated coders into full-fledged members of the Times—deputized to collaborate with reporters and editors, not merely to serve their needs.

To Pilhofer’s astonishment, Landman said yes on the spot. A month later, Pilhofer had his team: the Interactive Newsroom Technologies group, ten developers overseen by Frons and expected to collaborate with multimedia (run by Andrew DeVigal) and graphics. That fall, the Times entered its pricey new building, and online and off-line finally merged, physically, onto the same floor. Pragmatically, this meant access to the paper’s reporters, but it was also a key symbolic step, indicating the dissolution of the traditional condescension the print side of the paper held toward its virtual sibling.

Story continues in 3 parts, jump to the one that interests you.

Next: The group’s initial series of audacious new features.

Next: Another face of innovation at the Times.

Next: The battle against reader nostalgia.

Concluding two graphs:

“One of the New York Times’ roles in this new world is authority—and that’s probably the rarest commodity on the web,” explains Pilhofer as the waiter gives us our check. “That’s why in some respects we’re gung-ho and in other respects very conservative. Everything we do has to be to New York Times standards. Everything. And people are crazy about that. And that’s a good thing.”

Over time, Pilhofer adds, this is the role the Times can play: exciting online readers about the value of reportage, engaging them deeply in the Times’ specific brand of journalism—perhaps even so much that they might want to pay for it. If this comes true, it would mean this terrible year was not for nothing: that someday, this hard era would prove the turning point for the paper, the year when it didn’t go down, when it became something better. Pilhofer shrugs and puts his glass back down on the Algonquin table. “I just hope there’s a business model when we get there.”

Continue reading at New York Times . . .

No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else (NY Times)

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

The “Butt” in this road, in South Yorkshire, probably refers to a container for collecting water.

[Editor's note: Amusing article about "off color" place names in Britain that have a long history. Thanks April!]

Republished from The New York Times. By SARAH LYALL. Published: January 22, 2009.

CRAPSTONE, England — When ordering things by telephone, Stewart Pearce tends to take a proactive approach to the inevitable question “What is your address?”

He lays it out straight, so there is no room for unpleasant confusion. “I say, ‘It’s spelled “crap,” as in crap,’ ” said Mr. Pearce, 61, who has lived in Crapstone, a one-shop country village in Devon, for decades.

Disappointingly, Mr. Pearce has so far been unable to parlay such delicate encounters into material gain, as a neighbor once did.

“Crapstone,” the neighbor said forthrightly, Mr. Pearce related, whereupon the person on the other end of the telephone repeated it to his co-workers and burst out laughing. “They said, ‘Oh, wethought it didn’t really exist,’ ” Mr. Pearce said, “and then they gave him a free something.”

In the scale of embarrassing place names, Crapstone ranks pretty high. But Britain is full of them. Some are mostly amusing, like Ugley, Essex; East Breast, in western Scotland; North Piddle, in Worcestershire; and Spanker Lane, in Derbyshire.

Others evoke images that may conflict with residents’ efforts to appear dignified when, for example, applying for jobs.

These include Crotch Crescent, Oxford; Titty Ho, Northamptonshire; Wetwang, East Yorkshire; Slutshole Lane, Norfolk; and Thong, Kent. And, in a country that delights in lavatory humor, particularly if the word “bottom” is involved, there is Pratts Bottom, in Kent, doubly cursed because “prat” is slang for buffoon.

As for Penistone, a thriving South Yorkshire town, just stop that sophomoric snickering.

“It’s pronounced ‘PENNIS-tun,’ ” Fiona Moran, manager of the Old Vicarage Hotel in Penistone, said over the telephone, rather sharply. When forced to spell her address for outsiders, she uses misdirection, separating the tricky section into two blameless parts: “p-e-n” — pause — “i-s-t-o-n-e.”

Several months ago, Lewes District Council in East Sussex tried to address the problem of inadvertent place-name titillation by saying that “street names which could give offense” would no longer be allowed on new roads.

“Avoid aesthetically unsuitable names,” like Gaswork Road, the council decreed. Also, avoid “names capable of deliberate misinterpretation,” like Hoare Road, Typple Avenue, Quare Street and Corfe Close.

(What is wrong with Corfe Close, you might ask? The guidelines mention the hypothetical residents of No. 4, with their unfortunate hypothetical address, “4 Corfe Close.” To find the naughty meaning, you have to repeat the first two words rapidly many times, preferably in the presence of your fifth-grade classmates.)

The council explained that it was only following national guidelines and that it did not intend to change any existing lewd names.

Still, news of the revised policy raised an outcry.

“Sniggering at double entendres is a loved and time-honored tradition in this country,” Carol Midgley wrote in The Times of London. Ed Hurst, a co-author, with Rob Bailey, of “Rude Britain” and “Rude UK,” which list arguably offensive place names — some so arguably offensive that, unfortunately, they cannot be printed here — said that many such communities were established hundreds of years ago and that their names were not rude at the time.

“Place names and street names are full of history and culture, and it’s only because language has evolved over the centuries that they’ve wound up sounding rude,” Mr. Hurst said in an interview.

Mr. Bailey, who grew up on Tumbledown Dick Road in Oxfordshire, and Mr. Hurst got the idea for the books when they read about a couple who bought a house on Butt Hole Road, in South Yorkshire.

The name most likely has to do with the spot’s historic function as a source of water, a water butt being a container for collecting water. But it proved to be prohibitively hilarious.

“If they ordered a pizza, the pizza company wouldn’t deliver it, because they thought it was a made-up name,” Mr. Hurst said. “People would stand in front of the sign, pull down their trousers and take pictures of each other’s naked buttocks.”

The couple moved away.

The people in Crapstone have not had similar problems, although their sign is periodically stolen by word-loving merrymakers. And their village became a stock joke a few years ago, when a television ad featuring a prone-to-swearing soccer player named Vinnie Jones showed Mr. Jones’s car breaking down just under the Crapstone sign.

In the commercial, Mr. Jones tries to alert the towing company to his location while covering the sign and trying not to say “crap” in front of his young daughter.

The consensus in the village is that there is a perfectly innocent reason for the name “Crapstone,” though it is unclear what that is. Theories put forth by various residents the other day included “place of the rocks,” “a kind of twisting of the original word,” “something to do with the soil” and “something to do with Sir Francis Drake,” who lived nearby.

Jacqui Anderson, a doctor in Crapstone who used to live in a village called Horrabridge, which has its own issues, said that she no longer thought about the “crap” in “Crapstone.”

Still, when strangers ask where she’s from, she admitted, “I just say I live near Plymouth.”

Picturing the Inauguration: The Readers’ Album (NY Times)

Monday, January 26th, 2009

[Editor's note: Several hundred readers at the New York Times site submitted photos to a live photo wall commemorating last Tuesday's historic inauguration of Barack Obama as the United State's 44th president.]

Republished from The New York Times. January 18, 2009. Reader submitted.

NYTimes.com readers sent in their photographs from Washington and around the world. Images are organized in the order they were received.

Screenshots below. View interactive version.

Jon Huang, Ben Koski, Andrew Kueneman, Thomas Lin, Gabriel Dance, Whitney Dangerfield Elisabeth Goodridge, John McGrath, Jacob Harris, Tyson Evans, Alan McLean, and Hamilton Boardman/The New York Times

Figuring Autoworkers’ Pay (NY Times)

Monday, December 15th, 2008

[Editor's note: This graphic from the New York Times shows how the crux of the auto bailout is not a labor pricing issue but a core a supply and demand issue. The labor costs of a new car is only 10% of the price of a car and any remaining "labor" cost difference after recent union concessions is due, like any large company, to supporting prior retirees, a cost that newer companies have yet to experience (Diane Rehm Show, 15 Dec 2008). If the Big Three could make cars that were smart, efficient, reliable, and had resale value, now that's the ticket. Besides, it's not like the Heritage cadre were crying foul over big financial firm bailouts when those white collar workers certainly make more than the average American worker. Thanks Laris!]

Republished from the New York Times. By DAVID LEONHARDT. Published: December 9, 2008

Economic Scene
$73 an Hour: Adding It Up

That figure — repeated on television and in newspapers as the average pay of a Big Three autoworker — has become a big symbol in the fight over what should happen to Detroit. To critics, it is a neat encapsulation of everything that’s wrong with bloated car companies and their entitled workers.

To the Big Three’s defenders, meanwhile, the number has become proof positive that autoworkers are being unfairly blamed for Detroit’s decline. “We’ve heard this garbage about 73 bucks an hour,” Senator Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said last week. “It’s a total lie. I think some people have perpetrated that deliberately, in a calculated way, to mislead the American people about what we’re doing here.”

So what is the reality behind the number? Detroit’s defenders are right that the number is basically wrong. Big Three workers aren’t making anything close to $73 an hour (which would translate to about $150,000 a year).

But the defenders are not right to suggest, as many have, that Detroit has solved its wage problem. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler workers make significantly more than their counterparts at Toyota, Honda and Nissan plants in this country. Last year’s concessions by the United Automobile Workers, which mostly apply to new workers, will not change that anytime soon.

And yet the main problem facing Detroit, overwhelmingly, is not the pay gap. That’s unfortunate because fixing the pay gap would be fairly straightforward.

The real problem is that many people don’t want to buy the cars that Detroit makes. Fixing this problem won’t be nearly so easy.

The success of any bailout is probably going to come down to Washington’s willingness to acknowledge as much.

Let’s start with the numbers. The $73-an-hour figure comes from the car companies themselves. As part of their public relations strategy during labor negotiations, the companies put out various charts and reports explaining what they paid their workers. Wall Street analysts have done similar calculations.

The calculations show, accurately enough, that for every hour a unionized worker puts in, one of the Big Three really does spend about $73 on compensation. So the number isn’t made up. But it is the combination of three very different categories.

The first category is simply cash payments, which is what many people imagine when they hear the word “compensation.” It includes wages, overtime and vacation pay, and comes to about $40 an hour. (The numbers vary a bit by company and year. That’s why $73 is sometimes $70 or $77.)

The second category is fringe benefits, like health insurance and pensions. These benefits have real value, even if they don’t show up on a weekly paycheck. At the Big Three, the benefits amount to $15 an hour or so.

Add the two together, and you get the true hourly compensation of Detroit’s unionized work force: roughly $55 an hour. It’s a little more than twice as much as the typical American worker makes, benefits included. The more relevant comparison, though, is probably to Honda’s or Toyota’s (nonunionized) workers. They make in the neighborhood of $45 an hour, and most of the gap stems from their less generous benefits.

The third category is the cost of benefits for retirees. These are essentially fixed costs that have no relation to how many vehicles the companies make. But they are a real cost, so the companies add them into the mix — dividing those costs by the total hours of the current work force, to get a figure of $15 or so — and end up at roughly $70 an hour.

The crucial point, though, is this $15 isn’t mainly a reflection of how generous the retiree benefits are. It’s a reflection of how many retirees there are. The Big Three built up a huge pool of retirees long before Honda and Toyota opened plants in this country. You’d never know this by looking at the graphic behind Wolf Blitzer on CNN last week, contrasting the “$73/hour” pay of Detroit’s workers with the “up to $48/hour” pay of workers at the Japanese companies.

These retirees make up arguably Detroit’s best case for a bailout. The Big Three and the U.A.W. had the bad luck of helping to create the middle class in a country where individual companies — as opposed to all of society — must shoulder much of the burden of paying for retirement.

So here’s a little experiment. Imagine that a Congressional bailout effectively pays for $10 an hour of the retiree benefits. That’s roughly the gap between the Big Three’s retiree costs and those of the Japanese-owned plants in this country. Imagine, also, that the U.A.W. agrees to reduce pay and benefits for current workers to $45 an hour — the same as at Honda and Toyota.

Do you know how much that would reduce the cost of producing a Big Three vehicle? Only about $800.

That’s because labor costs, for all the attention they have been receiving, make up only about 10 percent of the cost of making a vehicle. An extra $800 per vehicle would certainly help Detroit, but the Big Three already often sell their cars for about $2,500 less than equivalent cars from Japanese companies, analysts at the International Motor Vehicle Program say. Even so, many Americans no longer want to own the cars being made by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

My own family’s story isn’t especially unusual. For decades, my grandparents bought American and only American. In their apartment, they still have a framed photo of the 1933 Oldsmobile that my grandfather’s family drove when he was a teenager. In the photo, his father stands proudly on the car’s running board.

By the 1970s, though, my grandfather became so sick of the problems with his American cars that he vowed never to buy another one. He hasn’t.

Detroit’s defenders, from top executives on down, insist that they have finally learned their lesson. They say a comeback is just around the corner. But they said the same thing at the start of this decade — and the start of the last one and the one before that. All the while, their market share has kept on falling.

There is good reason to keep G.M. and Chrysler from collapsing in 2009. (Ford is in slightly better shape.) The economy is in the worst recession in a generation. You can think of the Detroit bailout as a relatively cost-effective form of stimulus. It’s often cheaper to keep workers in their jobs than to create new jobs.

But Congress and the Obama administration shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking that they can preserve the Big Three in anything like their current form. Very soon, they need to shrink to a size that reflects the American public’s collective judgment about the quality of their products.

It’s a sad story, in many ways. But it can’t really be undone at this point. If we had wanted to preserve the Big Three, we would have bought more of their cars.

It Ain’t Easy To Get A Newspaper To Provide Useful Data (TechDirt)

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

[Editor's note: Interesting take on getting old media to get data friendly and generous: seeing the "value of data in addition to straight reporting, and the concept of openness compared to being a gatekeeper." Thanks Katharine!]

Republished from TechDirt. From the not-their-thing dept.

We’ve discussed in the past the idea that newspapers today need to get beyond reporting the news and also move towards opening up their data such that others can make that data useful. Newspapers have access to all sorts of interesting and useful data — but traditionally, they’ve hoarded it and only used it as a resource for editors and reporters in creating stories. However, by opening up that data to others, it could make those news organizations much more valuable. We’re seeing some movement in that direction, and recently noted that the NY Times had come out with an API for the campaign finance data it had. 

However, one thing that seems clear is that very few newspapers have the resources necessary to do this on a regular basis. The NY Times (and, to some extent, the Washington Post) seems to be willing to invest in this area, but for many newspapers, the entire concept seems foreign. Writing for OJR, Eric Ulken from the LA Times discusses how much effort it took to get the necessary resources just to build a homicide map to go along with a blogthat planned to chronicle every homicide in the LA area. If Ulken’s experience is any indication, it seems pretty clear that very, very few traditional news organizations are going to be able to pull this off. They’re just not set up to do such things. 

It seems increasingly clear that these types of innovations are more likely to come from newer news organizations who actually recognize the value of data in addition to straight reporting, and the concept of openness compared to being a gatekeeper.

Parsing the Bailout (Wash Post + NY Times)

Monday, December 1st, 2008

[Editor's note: Two visual approaches to graphing out the Federal Government's expanding effort to "invest" in the economy during the financial crises and prevent another "Great Depression". One from the Washington Post uses a tree map (1 | 2 | 3) approach to show all the individual parts of the bailout in relative size to each other in 1 single block. The New York Times offering uses an illustrated narrative form where each part is still scaled relative to the others but it is shown in isolation with explanation text. The two graphics are not directly comparable as they use different grouping categories. Please note the Post graphic was 3/4 of a page while I think the Times graphic was smaller.

The NY Times used a similar tree mapping approach in their recent All of Inflation's Little Parts interactive. I'm quite taken with this approach! It reminds me of cartograms but focusing on the data topology instead of being held captive by the "shape" of countries. Countries are to most people nominal lists and when physical geography (arrangement, proximity, etc) does not influence pattern, I think this is a better approach.]

Graphics below republished from Washington Post and New York Times (story | graphic), both from 26 November 2008. Top graphic (graduated circle “bubbles”) is NY Times.

Washington Post
By Todd Lindeman and Brenna Maloney.
View larger (or click on graphic).

New York Times
By staff artist.
View larger (or click on graphic).

A House of Glass (NY Times)

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

[Editor's note: This interactive in a panel based narrative highlighting the transformation of a landmark in New York City. Touches of animation and good story telling. Republished from the New York Times on Oct. 16th, 2008. Thanks Christina!]

The cascading public staircase that covers the new TKTS discount booth in Duffy Square is made almost entirely of structural-strength glass: walls, beams, treads and risers. (Related Article)

View full sized original at NYTimes.com . . .

Source: Nicholas Leahy, Perkins Eastman, Theater Development Fund

Mika Gröndahl and Xaquín G.V. / The New York Times; Photographs by Fred R. Conrad, Richard Perry, Michael Evans / The New York Times, Associated Press, Times Square Alliance