20 January 2023

Gavin Freeguard
Warning: Graphic Content
11 min readJan 20


Farewell for a while


This newsletter will be taking a break for a short while. Partly because I have a madly busy few weeks coming up. Partly because, having done this since 2014 with only a short break in late 2018/early 2019, I definitely need some time off. Partly because, as someone who really needs to get motoring on their book idea this year *and* maintain/make some sort of work/life balance, I need to start more ruthlessly prioritising my time. And partly because, as a freelancer who is spending a lot of time and not making any money on this newsletter at the moment, I need some space to think about how to make it work.

A huge thank you to all of you, for subscribing to and following Warning: Graphic Content. I *really* appreciate everyone who has stuck with it, and the many kind comments, suggested links and pun-related groans over the years. Hopefully there’ll be more to come in future.

In the meantime, there are lots of alternatives in my spreadsheet of data-related newsletters (and please add any I’ve missed). I’m still on Twitter, might be on Mastodon, and may pop up on Medium, too. And you can always get in touch via email.

Ah, Twitter. The implosion of my main social media network — a great time to temporarily turn off the newsletter.

Our survey said

And a great time to finally summarise the results of the reader survey that I sent out, and 18 of you kindly filled in, a few months back. Let’s start with the marks out of 5 for how useful everyone finds each section (1 being not at all, and 5 being hugely):

Graphic Content graphic content: a line chart showing how survey respondents ranked each section’s usefulness/enjoyment out of 5. Only the Graphic Content section (53%) fell short of two-third of respondents scoring it 4 or 5 out of 5.

Two reflections: first, not to go all Sally Field, but you actually like the introduction — I never quite knew if I was just rambling into the ether. Second, the Graphic Content section — which is where this newsletter started as a way to show IfG colleagues the power of dataviz, back in 2013 — is actually the least popular section (even if slightly more respondents gave it 5 out of 5 than any other section).

I think that score also reflects my personal journey — while I’m still passionate about good (and bad) data visualisation, as the years have gone on I’ve become more and more interested in the stuff that goes into the Meta data section. That seems to be true of many of you, too.

Good job the newsletter name isn’t a pun on dataviz, eh?

A few other quick stats:

  • 11% of those who responded have been subscribed for more than four years, and another 44% between one and four years
  • 18% of those who responded read Graphic Content first — everyone else starts with the Introduction (a very good place to start, as the nun once sang)
  • And everyone who filled out the survey subscribes to the email, rather than coming to it via Medium or Twitter.

As for the qualitative questions:

  • Things that you like include: the volume and variety of links, the fact that someone else has read everything (!) so you don’t have to, the bullet format making it easy to scan, the fact it reflects upon chart design and research, the combination of dataviz and data resources but also wider insight into current affairs, when I get opinionated, and the job opportunities (again, never knew if they were useful or not). Some of you even like learning about what I’m up to. And the puns. God help you.
  • Things you thought could be improved: several of you thought it was too long (‘overwhelming’, could be more carefully curated, should sometimes cut a few links that refer to the same story), even though it’s called Graphic Content there aren’t actually any graphics and the succession of text and bullets can be overwhelming, the links to paywalled articles, and the playful and innocuous title being easily confused with spam or not fully conveying what the newsletter is about. ‘Some international stringers’ was an ask for the future — I’ve become more and more conscious of the lack of international breadth and the fact I tend to rely on the same, mainstream outlets for many of the links (which could be more diverse in several other respects).

All very fair, as well as useful. On length (and format) — the contrasting views are interesting, and I will plead Blaise Pascal: ‘I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter’. It also prompts a reflection from me, that it has become more and more difficult to pull the newsletter together. Part of this is a proliferation of data visualisation and of data and digital news. Part of this is a paywall issue — trying to catch a glimpse over the paywall to see whether a link is worth including is actually quite time consuming.

And part of this represents a welcome trend even if it has made my life more difficult. Back in the day, ‘data journalism’ was a niche with dedicated outlets and Twitter accounts and you could cover most of the ground by just looking at those. Some of those survive. But data journalism has, by and large, been mainstreamed into news outlets’ wider output. Great for data journalism — if irritating for those of us having to cast our eyes more widely to grab the best examples of it, and I suspect I often miss quite a lot.

Sometimes I wonder how I used to do this daily — perhaps breaking it up through the week, and there being less news about data/me being less focused on pulling in the news about data rather than charts, actually made it easier.

Thank you again to everyone who filled out the survey, and especially the many who replied that they already recommend the newsletter to friends and colleagues. But particular thanks to the wag who said they’d recommend it to even more people ‘in return for cash in a numbered Swiss account’.

Everything else


Connected by Data:

  • Before Christmas, we held an event in parliament on what the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill and wider policy could mean for automated decision-making, data at work and data in schools. Here’s my write-up.

Everything else:

Hopefully see some of you at Govcamp this weekend, or otherwise around virtually or in real life soon.

Thanks again, and very best

Enjoying Warning: Graphic Content?

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Today’s links:

Graphic content

Donors, kebabed

A feast for the Census

Striking charts




Weather and climate


Sport and leisure

Everything else

Meta data

Safety first

Deeply DPDIB

Open for the best

AI got ‘rithm

Sharing is caring

Your face or mine?

That was the year that was

Infra me, infra me, they’ve all got it infra me


Everything else


And finally…