THE NEW YORK TIMES just ran an interesting article titled ‘It’s All Connected: A Spectator’s Guide to the Euro Crisis’ and the intro ending with ‘The graphic here helps you see the intertwined complexities.’
They also ran an interactive visualization online with the same title, but with the intro ending in ‘Here is a visual guide to the crisis’.
Pretty much the same stuff – except that I challenge you to understand and gain insight from the online-version: See it here:
Before reading the print-version. See it here:
The printed version has a lot of text, which leads you through the story and educates you along the way on a highly complex system. The graphic is the perfect companion on this journey, where you’ll find exactly what you need and gain some extra helpful facts too. Like the explanation why Japan is not in risk, even if it has a debt of 233% of GDP. It’s interesting to explore it on your own, while you make short pauses in the reading.
The online version shows you the data and tells you some accompanying facts – but doesn’t tell you the story. The same data, but strangely disinteresting. Why would I even click around to get the data, when I have no use for them? I’m forced into explorermode too early.
Big differences in the looks too: The print-version is elegant with a good colour and easy focus on the worrisome countries. The online-version has weaker colour and also a black line around every element, which kills the appearance. Black lines around the circles, which separates the arrows sticking out, looks very amateurish. Surrounding a thin colored line with black lines is a disaster. Overlaying text on black lines is a bad decision too.
In an effort to make the interactive version more useful, it has been split into six smaller sub-stories. But presented like this the bubbles shows to be even less useful. You lose more context and end up with very crude charts, that doesn’t aid your insights at all.
As an example you can look at this graphic to accompany this text: ‘If there is no firewall or if it is inadequate, it would be easy to imagine a run on banks’. Doesn’t really work out, eh?
On a final note – the role of China as the unknown factor in the world of economics has been edited out of the interactive version for no apparent reason. Where the printed story ends with an entire paragraph (#7) to inform me and make me think about the future, the interactive just ends because I run out of boxes to click.
The Verdict – The printed version is a masterpiece of visual journalism, which unfortunately leaves the role of the screw-up to the online version. On a day like this you feel really bad that print is in decline.