Posts Tagged ‘obama’

Leveraging Iconic Photos to Augument Names in Graphics

Monday, May 4th, 2009

[Editor's note: Augmenting textual names with iconic faces can liven up a graphic. Same goes for flags with country names. This graphic from The Washington Post's Karen Yourish and Laura Stanton does exactly that.]

Republished from The Washington Post, April 2009.

The Confirmation Race

A look at presidential transitions from Reagan to Obama. President Obama needs to fill about 500 government-agency positions that require Senate confirmation.

Related: Heat Count–Tracking Obama’s Appointees.

confirmationrace

Jump Starting the Global Economy (Wash Post)

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

globaleconver_040209

[Editor's note: Find the trends, group them together, and use that hierarchy (topology) as an access metaphor. And remember geography doesn't always need to mean map.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Original publication date: March 29th, 2009.
By Karen Yourish And Todd Lindeman — The Washington Post.

The total amount of the stimulus packages approved by the G-20 countries amounts to $1.6 trillion. More than half of that comes from the United States.

Other maps and graphics that use grouping:

Interactive: Obama’s Appointments (Kelso via Wash Post)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

[Editor's note: I did the Flash ActionScript 3 programming behind Head Count: Tracking Obama's Appointments. This ambitious, collaborative database-driven project tracks the Obama administration’s senior political appointments and will be kept up-to-date with the latest happenings. A look at some of the interactive features you can find at washingtonpost.com/headcount.]

Interactive graphic and database by Sarah Cohen, Karen Yourish, Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso, Ryan O’Neil, Paul Volpe, Sarah Sampsel and Laura Stanton.

This project draws on concepts from these two blog posts in particular: It Ain’t Easy To Get A Newspaper To Provide Useful Data (TechDirt) and The New Journalism: Goosing the Gray Lady (NY Times).

Republished from The Washington Post

Heads Pop Up and Heads Roll: Let’s Keep Track.
By Al Kamen; Wednesday, March 18, 2009; Page A11

Today we launch Head Count, The Washington Post’s interactive database to help you keep a sharp eye on the people President Obama is appointing to the nearly 500 top positions in the federal government that require Senate confirmation. The new feature will not only tell you who they are but also help you count all the demographic beans — age, sex, ethnicity, education (elite schools or not), home states and so on.

At http://www.washingtonpost.com/headcount, you can search agency by agency to determine which jobs are still open, should your private-sector job be looking a little shaky these days. You can also search by individual to determine how many officials in this “change” administration are merely retreads from the Clinton days.

And Head Count will give some clues to help answer everyone’s perennial question: How did that fool get that great job? It will also tell you who paid good, hard money or bundled huge sums for Obama/Biden, who worked on the campaign, who had the coveted Harvard Law connection, hailed from Chicago or was a pal of Michelle Obama, Tom Daschle or Ted Kennedy.

The appointments that are tracked by Head Count do not include judges, ambassadors, U.S. attorneys or U.S. marshals. We’ll monitor those separately. Nor does the database include the many important officials who are not confirmed by the Senate. We’ll be tweaking the database as we go, adding new categories, such as veterans, and making other additions.

Loop Fans can help! If you’ve got information we could use or suggestions about how to improve the site, please submit comments and updates at the link provided on the Head Count Web site.

NOMINATING PARTY

The White House personnel logjam — also known as the Great Daschle Debacle — appears to have been broken. Team Obama’s nominations operation began at a record pace. But IRS problems sparked Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle‘s withdrawal on Feb. 3, leading to a general revetting of nominees that stalled everything.

The numbers are startling. Obama, by the end of his first week in office, had announced 47 nominees for senior-most jobs. He’d officially nominated 37 of them, according to data compiled by New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service Presidential Transition Project. (That number includes some holdovers.)

But in the month after Daschle’s withdrawal, the White House announced only 10 candidates for Senate-confirmed positions and formally nominated only six people.

In the next three weeks, however, the pace ramped up sharply, with 42 nominees named. Official nominations have been slower — only 27 during that time. But there were 15 last week, and we’re told there are plenty in the pipeline. As of yesterday, there were 39 Senate-confirmed individuals on the job. (That includes seven holdovers.)

The push now is to get as many nominees up to the Senate — and get confirmation for the three dozen or so already up there — before the Senate slithers out of town on April 3.

View the interactive at The Washington Post . . .

Obama’s War (Wash Post)

Friday, February 20th, 2009

[Editor's note: This full page graphic by Gene Thorp delves into the mire that Afghanistan may become for President Obama. Great mapping and visual story telling with photo and charting elements.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Originally published Sunday 15 February 2009 in the Outlook section.
Graphic by Gene Thorp and Patterson Clark.

Iraq was George W. Bush’s war, but the conflict that now embroils both Afghanistan and Pakistan is likely to become Barack Obama’s — a war to which he may commit 30,000 more U.S. troops. Will the incoming soldiers be sucked into the “graveyard of empires,” as the British and Soviets were before them? Or could Obama’s war eventually bring peace and stability to the region? Here are some of the most important trends that will help determine the answer.

Graphic content by Peter Bergen, author of “The Osama bin Laden I Know” and senior fellow at the New America Foundation, and Katherine Tiedemann, New America Foundation program associate

View hi-res PDF of the graphic. Screenshot below.
Click screenshot for higher resolution image.

RELATED ARTICLE
Going the Distance: The war in Afghanistan isn’t doomed. We just need to rethink the insurgency.

By Seth G. Jones Sunday, February 15, 2009; Page B01

On the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, lies the Kabre Ghora graveyard. It is believed to contain the graves of 158 British soldiers, diplomats and their families who died in the city during the Anglo-Afghan wars of 1839-1842 and 1879-1880. The name comes from the term Afghans use to describe British soldiers: “Ghora.”

The original British gravestones have disappeared except for the remnants of 10, which have been preserved and relocated to a spot against the cemetery’s southern wall. I have been to Kabre Ghora several times, but on my most recent visit, I noticed something new — a memorial honoring soldiers from the United States, Canada and Europe who have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

Afghanistan has a reputation as a graveyard of empires, based as much on lore as on reality. This reputation has contributed to a growing pessimism that U.S. and NATO forces will fare no better there than did the Soviet and British armies, or even their predecessors reaching back to Alexander the Great. The gloom was only stoked by last week’s brazen suicide attacks in Kabul on the eve of a visit by Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But it would be irresponsible to concede defeat. Yes, the situation is serious, but it’s far from doomed. We can still turn things around if we strive for a better understanding of the Afghan insurgency and work to exploit its many weaknesses.

(more…)

Gitmo In Limbo (Wash Post)

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

[Editor's note: While President Obama has committed to closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year, it's hard to know what to do with some of the prisoners.

This graphic reminds me of the old adage about people being able to deal only 5±2 things at once. There are almost 200 countries in the world. It's hard to keep track of them all. But there are only 7 continents, and those are easy to remember because it fits the 5±2 rule. To instead of listing out all those countries alphabetically or ordered by number of detainees, sometimes it is more useful to group them first by geographic "region". Note: Washington Post style views the Middle East as a separate continent-level region from Asia. Thank also to Laris for formulating these ideas with me.

Why wasn't this information shown on a map instead of listed in a structured table with charting? For several reasons: Geography, while useful as an metaphorical principle, does not function as a the most important thematic (organizing) principle in the distribution. We know nothing about where the individual detainees are from in each country so we would have had to create a by country choropleth map which would have given a false importance to larger countries like China, and been hard to show the three thematic subcategories. We could have placed the thematic symbols (1 for each detainee and color coded to their status, like in the table) on each country, but then it would have been harder to compare each country between countries for number and type of detainee as each entry would not have shared a common baseline. A table with charting accomplishes our goals: We list the countries sorted by number of detainees and grouped by continent. This serves the same function as a map would have in terms of giving in indication as to where each country is (metaphorical principle, reminding readers of the country's location in the network topology). And we get to easily compare the quantities and thematic types associated with those countries at a glance because of the common chart axis baseline.

What exactly are continents anyhow? Geology seems to have moved on to plate techtonics with 20-some major plates that often meet or rip apart the middle of "continents", but continents remain popular I think exactly because of the 5±2 rule.

Some cartographers are moving beyond the physical geography "continents" into top-level cultural regions. Allan Cartography's Raven world map does exactly this, take a look. The same holds true for any large set of thematic data. Find the trends, group them together, and use that hierarchy (topology) as an access metaphor. And remember geography doesn't always need to mean map. Your users will thank you.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Orginally published: 16 February 2009.
Reporting by Julie Tate.

About a third of the detainees held at Guantanamo are either facing charges or approved for release. The rest are judged to be enemy combatants, and it is unclear whether they will be prosecuted, be released or continue to be held.


RELATED ARTICLE:
4 Cases Illustrate Guantanamo Quandaries
Administration Must Decide Fate of Often-Flawed Proceedings, Often-Dangerous Prisoners

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 16, 2009; Page A01

In their summary of evidence against Mohammed Sulaymon Barre, a Somali detained at Guantanamo Bay, military investigators allege that he spent several years at Osama bin Laden’s compound in Sudan. But other military documents place him in Pakistan during the same period.

One hearing at Guantanamo cited his employment for a money-transfer company with links to terrorism financing. Another file drops any mention of such links.

Barre is one of approximately 245 detainees at the military prison in Cuba whose fate the Obama administration must decide in coming months. Teams of government lawyers are sorting through complex, and often flawed, case histories as they work toward President Obama’s commitment to close the facility within a year.

Much of the government’s evidence remains classified, but documents in Barre’s case, and a handful of others, underscore the daunting legal, diplomatic, security and political challenges.

As officials try to decide who can be released and who can be charged, they face a series of murky questions: what to do when the evidence is contradictory or tainted by allegations of torture; whether to press charges in military or federal court; what to do if prisoners are deemed dangerous but there is little or no evidence against them that would stand up in court; and where to send prisoners who might be killed or tortured if they are returned home.

Answering those questions, said current and former officials, is a massive undertaking that has been hampered by a lack of cooperation among agencies and by records that are physically scattered and lacking key details.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

A Religious Portrait of African Americans (Wash Post)

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

[Editor's note: Dashboard charting problem: how to show over 70 percentage-based statistics parsing how religious African Americans are compared to the total population. Solution: Field of small multiples with filled rectangles proportional to the percentage measure. I think this graphic is effective, do you?]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Originally published:14 February 2009. Graphic by Tobey.
Related article: Hymn’s Power As Black Anthem Endures

A report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life finds that African Americans are demonstrably more religious on a variety of issues than the U.S. population as a whole. The forum looked at the level of affiliation, church attendance, frequency of prayer and the importance of religion to someone’s life. Here is a snapshot of the major findings:

View hi-res PDF of the graphic.

Related article: Hymn’s Power As Black Anthem Endures

By Adelle M. Banks

Religion News Service
Saturday, February 14, 2009; Page B07

When the Rev. Joseph Lowery was chosen to offer the closing prayer at President Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, he knew which hymn he would borrow to start his prayer.

“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far along the way,” he prayed, invoking the third verse from “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the hymn that’s long been considered the unofficial black national anthem.

“Thou who has by Thy might, Led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray.”

The words rang out across the Mall that day, and again the next day at the Washington National Cathedral in the sermon preached to the new president. For more than a century, they have been used to mark special occasions, including the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and have become a staple for Black History Month each February.

(more…)

Getting a Grip on Executive Pay (Wash Post)

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

[Editor's note: Obama is set to sign the latest stimulus package today. Congress included restrictions on executive pay. Here's how it breaks down.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Originally published: 14 February 2009.

By the Numbers: Executive Pay

The stimulous bill passed by Congress restricts senior executives’ compensation at firms receiving funds from the government’s Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

$3.65 million > The average CEO’s compensation in 2007 for 196* public companies participating in the government bailout program.

Front page A1 layout featuring this story (view PDF).

Related article:

EXECUTIVE PAY: Congress Trumps Obama by Cuffing Bonuses for CEOs

 

By Tomoeh Murakami Tse

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 14, 2009; Page A01

The stimulus package Congress passed last night imposes new limits on executive compensation that could significantly curb multimillion dollar pay packages on Wall Street and goes much further than restrictions proposed by the Obama administration last week.

The bill, which President Obama is expected to sign into law next week, limits bonuses for executives at all financial institutions receiving government funds to no more than a third of their annual compensation. The bonuses must be paid in company stock that can be redeemed only when the government investment has been repaid. With the measure, lawmakers seek to address public outrage over extravagant Wall Street paydays even as taxpayers bail out the industry.

Unlike the rules issued by the White House, the limits in the stimulus bill would apply to top executives and the highest-paid employees at all 359 banks that have already received government aid.

(more…)

Cheney Leaves VP Residence, Takes Pixelated Google Map with Him (GizModo)

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

[Editor's note: At first I thought this was pure humor but, for whatever reason, Google Maps does indeed now show detailed resolution at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, aka Cheney's secret hideout #1.]

Republished from Gizmodo.
By Mark Wilson, 12:10 PM on Mon Jan 26 2009

Google Maps’ satellite imagery has shown us clear shots of the White House, the Capitol and even the Pentagon. But one thing it never displayed properly was Dick Cheney’s house. Until now.

The Vice President’s quarters, located at the Naval Observatory since 1974, have been pixelated ever since Google has given the public an easy way to check them out—coincidentally ever since Dick Cheney has lived there. This censorship wasn’t by Google but those supplying Google the source images, the U.S. Geological Survey.

Now on the same week of Biden’s arrival, we’re suddenly allowed to see the VP’s house as clearly as the President’s. Who knows the exact reason for Cheney’s extra security…maybe he’d been nervous about the public catching wind of his Mini Cheney clone farm, or maybe he’s just prone to gardening in his shorts despite being self-conscious about his varicose veins. [Valleywag]

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 . . .

GRAPHIC: Taking Apart the $819 billion Stimulus Package (Wash Post)

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

[Editor's note: This graphic from this Sunday's Washington Post graphically breaks down who benefits from the bill's spending measures. Most of the effect of the bill would be felt in 2009 and 2010. Thanks Karen!]

Republished from The Washington Post. February 01, 2009
Reporting by Karen Yourish, graphic by Laura Stanton.
Related article: 8 Questions on the Stimulus Package.

The centerpiece of President Obama’s domestic agenda is an $819 billion economic stimulus plan. The Senate will consider the measure this week, with an eye toward the amount of tax cuts and spending. Republicans and Democrats spar over what to consider a tax cut. An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office tallies the tax-cut portion to be significantly less than the one-third Democrats claim it to be.

View full size (screenshot below).

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office