Data in Storytelling: How Multimedia Design Explains Missouri Primary

Visualization is one of the most effective methods of presenting information, especially data. Graphs, charts, maps are perceived much faster and more efficiently by the human eye, even when the content consists of the complex numbers and percentages. Data, which are wrapped in the digestible design, create more opportunities for writing coherent stories and analyzing processes and trends.

On March 22, the whole world could observe how effectively multimedia design can be used in storytelling. Super Tuesday and Missouri Primary became not only local but even national and global news. Many national and global media outlets used multimedia design for covering of the election results in different states. There are some observations about how the Washington Post, the New York Times and Politico took advantage of data reporting about Missouri Primary

The Washington Post used visual effective storytelling by mapping, demonstrating particular locations where a candidate was chosen by different colors. Information is detailed and ranged by areas inside the state. The biggest cities are marked out by the names as Kansas City, Saint Louis and Jefferson City. Pointing on the particular county, it is possible to see how many people voted for certain Democratic or Republican candidate.

You can see the concentration of the population in the various places of the state and the size of lead of particular candidate

Under the map, you can see the common results in the state with the number of voters, delegates, and percentages.

Under the map we can see a text piece with short explanations of the graphic about the primaries on March 15 and particularly Missouri primary.

Then you can see another graphic which represents how the presidential candidates are faring in Missouri. Each dot represents a candidate’s five most recent surveys. Filled dots show a candidate’s polling average

There is one more graphic on the page which demonstrates top national fundraisers. Area of rectangles represents total campaign contributions for each candidate nationally. The shaded portion represents cash on hand.

The New York Times also used mapping for Missouri primary but in another way: they took a map of the country and marked out certain states which already had primaries and put their results with votes and percentages. They also put a list of candidates with photos, pointing out the winners in a particular state using colors.

On the main page with election results, they used a horizontal bar chart with different colors for each candidate. You can also see the table below which contains results by date, state and candidates with pictures.

Politico used very simple but not less effective horizontal line bar chat with a list of candidates, percentages, numbers of voters and delegates for both parties using traditional red and blue colors.

All these examples demonstrate how to strengthen media reporting using design features such as colors, maps, tables and bar chats which create more possibilities for journalists to make information more attractive, digestible and interesting.

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