In case there’s any doubt about the power of a well-crafted interactive, it’s worth noting that the April 29th NYT story about money, race, and education attainment was near the top of the Most-Emailed List earlier this week.
Among other things, the interactive allows readers to plug in their own zip code or anyone else’s. Readers can also mouse over the graphs and see which districts are outliers given their poverty rate.
It doesn’t hurt that the graphics tell a relatively simple, emotionally powerful story: “Sixth graders in the richest school districts are four grade levels ahead of children in the poorest districts.”
Most journalists aren’t data geeks or graphics types, so thinking up and executing this kind of storytelling can be a challenge. But the potential benefits of this approach seem pretty clear. And luckily, there are more and more data visualization folks out there who love working with data and turning it into powerful narratives.
Other education stories rich in data visualization that come to mind include the Tampa Bay Times’ Failure Factories series, the WBEZ/Southtown Daily Star series on poverty and student achievement.
Two other pieces that were rich in visuals, albeit without much data, are BuzzFeed’s Snapchat-based interview with a young mountainclimbing phenom and Mindquest’s photoessay of a day in the life of an AltSchool student.
Steal This School Segregation Story [Visualization]!.