3 to Read: Flattening the Curve | Tracking the Outbreak | 9 Charts on the Economy

Despite the abundance of information and data regarding COVID-19, journalists are using data visualisation more than ever to present this information as clear and precise to the public as possible. 

Simulating Flattening the Curve: Flattening the curve slowly became a common phrase heard on the news. But for many, it may have been hard to understand why exactly social distancing would lead to flattening the curve. Using simulations that readers can interact with, Harry Stevens for the Washington Post designed an article meant to show how social distancing can impact and decrease the spread of COVID-19. The simulation visually explains the importance of social distancing, an important tool to educate readers in times of confusion. 

Tracking the Global Outbreak: The Visual and Data Journalism Team for BBC News has accumulated data from several different sources such as Johns Hopkins University and WHO to put together a series of maps and charts that are tracking the spread of COVID-19. Some of the charts compare globally in different countries in terms of cases, recoveries and deaths, while others highlight the change in movements in different cities. In a global pandemic, comparisons between countries can provide useful exposure to how other countries are handling the crisis and connects the readers on a global scale. 

9 Charts Showing what Coronavirus is doing to the Economy: COVID-19 has not only social and public health impacts, it also has had a dire effect on the economy. With the stock market crash and all non-essential businesses being closed, the economy has taken a toll. Dylan Matthews for Vox compiles nine charts that show the impact on the U.S. economy. Visuals range from data on rise in unemployment, recession and the impact on the Dow. These charts provide clarity and comprehensibility to readers who receive an intense flow of information about the economy daily. 

3 to read: Bottomless Pinocchio | Good Google? Gone | Congress misses its chance

By Matt Carroll <@MattCData>

Dec. 15, 2018: Cool stuff about journalism, once a week. Get notified via email? Subscribe: 3toread (at) gmail. Originally published on 3toread.co

The WaPo’s ‘Bottomless Pinocchio’: A new rating for a false claim repeated over and over again: Love this. You have to give the WaPo credit for their aggressive coverage of Trump. For instance, not so long ago, a politician caught lying would be embarrassed enough to stop repeating the lie. Not Trump. So the WaPo has upped its game w this interesting new system for ranking repeat liars. Kudos to Glenn Kessler.

What happened to the good Google?: Google’s Dragonfly will intensify surveillance of journalists in China: Many Google watchers and company employees were shocked when they found out the search company was working hand-in-hand with the Chinese gov’t to create a censorship-compliant search engine. When word leaked out, it caused protests within the company. Well, apparently they weren’t enough to derail the project. Money talks, and the Chinese market is too big to give up over the principles of democracy, apparently. Mia Shuang Li for CJR.

The missed point of Google’s Congressional hearing: Congress had a chance to dig deep into Google’s business practices and how they can hurt consumers across the country, notes Charlie Warzel of BuzzFeed. So did pols look at how people are tracked? Or how their personal data is sold? No. Instead pols focused on perceived political bias, asking shallow questions. And not surprisingly, the Google CEO gave evasive answers. All in all, a chance to shine a little light on the internal workings of one of the most influential corporations in the world was flubbed.

3 to read: NPR? What the heck? | Breaking down Russia’s FB ads | Civil war at WSJ?

By Matt Carroll <@MattCData>

Nov. 4, 2017: Cool stuff about journalism, once a week. Get notified via email? Subscribe: 3toread (at) gmail. Originally published on 3toread.co

  1. Behind the scenes: What the heck happened at NPR?: Michael Oreskes, the senior VP and editorial director of NPR, was ousted for sexual harassment at the liberal bastion, caught up in the Weinstein whirlwind. But while some details have been released, much remain murky: What happened behind the scenes? Who knew what when? Megan Garber of The Atlantic does a nice job creating a tick-tock of events — including what top NPR officials knew several years ago.

2. How Russian Facebook ads worked so effectively: An excellent data viz showing how the Russians used Facebook ads so well — and how the bad actor ads were spotted. In a nutshell, they created divisiveness by manipulating strong emotions and wrapping their subjects in the American flag. Great work by Leslie Shapiro at the WaPo.

3. Is civil war breaking out in WSJ over the editorial board’s coverage of Mueller?: Oh boy, it’s getting ugly at the Journal. Joe Pompeo at Vanity Fair writes an intriguing story about how the WSJ’s whacky editorials over Mueller are helping drive an exodus of top talent. Or as one former high-ranking Journal writer tweeted: “WSJ edit page has gone full bats — t.”

=== +++ ===

Cool event:

  • Get notified via email: Send a note to 3toread (at) gmail.com

Matt Carroll teaches journalism at Northeastern University.

3 to read: Reporting a timeline, pixel by pixel | Cool dataviz: ‘You draw it’ | Millennials *will* pay for news

By Matt Carroll <@MattCData>

Oct. 28, 2017: Cool stuff about journalism, once a week. Get notified via email? Subscribe: 3toread (at) gmail. Originally published on 3toread.co

  1. The Las Vegas shooting: How to report a timeline, pixel by pixel: In a series of tweets, Malachy Browne, a producer in the NYT’s video unit, basically conducts a master class on how to build a complicated timeline by combining a number of video clips. It’s a fascinating tweet stream. (Click on the tweet linked in the story to see all the tweets.) It’s a great learning experience, even for experienced reporters.

Logo by Leigh Carroll (Instagram: @Leighzaah

2. Simply, a cool NYT dataviz: ‘You draw it’: Another great example from the NYT, which continues to do top-notch data viz. “You draw it: Just how bad is the drug overdose epidemic?” informs, while providing (grim) information about how Americans have died over the past few decades in everything from car crashes to opioids. (Check out the crazy AIDS timeline.) Kudos to their graphics team and Josh Katz, who did this one.

3. Maybe the apocalypse isn’t *that* close: Millennials are paying for news: The commonly accepted wisdom is that millennials won’t crack open their wallets for news. Maybe that needs a digital update. Millennials — in increasing numbers — are paying, according to an impressive collection of publications: The Atlantic, NYT, WaPo, WSJ, and the Economist, among others. Driving the surge? Millennials are getting used to paying for digital content through sites such as Netflix, while the “Trump bump” gets some credit too.

+ ===== +

Cool upcoming event:


Is Trump Making Investigative Reporting Great Again?

When: Fri. Nov. 17

Where: Cabral Center, O’Bryant African-American Institute

40 Leon St., Northeastern University, Boston

Cost: Free

Register: bit.ly/NUtrumpreport

Keynote speakers: Louise Kiernan, editor in chief, ProPublica Illinois & Eric Umansky, deputy managing editor, Pro Publica


  • Is there a market for investigative reporting? (Tom Melville, WBUR; Anne Galloway, VTDigger; Burt Glass, NECIR; David Hurlburt, WCVB)  
  • Tips techniques and tales from investigative reporters (Mike Rezendes, Boston Globe; David Armstrong, StatNews; Casey McDermott, NH Public Radio; Mike Morisy, MuckRock)



  • Get notified via email: Send a note to 3toread (at) gmail.com

Matt Carroll teaches journalism at Northeastern University.