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– 1% of the news in infographics …

The Death of Nodar Kumaritashvili in closeup

If you want to see the most brutal online-graphic of the unfortunate accident, where the Georgian lugedriver Nodar Kumaritashvili got killed, you’ll have to visit the website of … Take a wild guess?


wrong! – It’s the Grey Lady: New York Times, who has decided to go all 3D and photo-closeup of the final seconds in Nodar’s 21 years long life.

Link to the graphic

So far I haven’t seen any positive comments on this 8-image click-through. Several readers have commented about how they think it’s lack of respect for the dead athlete and his family to make a graphic like this. Bloggers Max Gadney and Greg J. Smith isn’t exactly fans of the graphic either.

And yes – it is a surprise to see such a violent themed graphic at the NYT-website. And most unusual the graphic hasn’t got any credentials to it. There is no artist’s name. I’m guessing here, but maybe this graphic was made on request from a senior sports editor rather than originating from the graphic department itself?

Too bad really, as it would be nice to see the skilled artists at NYT delve into this kind of explainers too – we know they are the tops with the data-wizardry, but they still have way to go when it comes to breaking action news. At least when they are told to do them, and don’t like the assignment.

Crossing the Line of Ethics?

Whether or not the graphic is crossing the line of ethics is another discussion – I like to see real events described with graphics, and yes – news can be violent, so for me the topic is highly relevant and should be covered by infographics too. We can’t leave the emotional topics for everyone else in the news-industry and sit back drawing pretty vectors. We need to get up and ride the same horse as our colleagues in the newsroom.

And giving readers as clear an idea as possible of HOW events unfolded is an important element in the coverage of any major story.

That said I simply don’t understand the execution of the graphic. We start out by being utterly confused as the ‘Start’ is put to the right and hence the flow of the graphic is destroyed. Everyone (but the arabs?) will enter the graphic reading ‘The course is more gentle at the top … ‘- it doesn’t make sense.

Efforts have been put into rendering the track in 3D, only so we can get a yellow line representing the path Nodar travels? Unfortunately the angle doesn’t really work, so screengrabbed images are added to show what it really looked like.

Obviously the eye is attracted to a human figure being tossed around in a photo a lot more than to a yellow line in a dull rendering. Why not just go with the images then? The describing text is caught in between the image and rendering.

When you have clicked your way through to number 8 you’re in for another surprise as the rendering autoruns and everything disappears into a photo showing Nodar up against the structure which probably broke his neck. Hey – we need some closure here – or did the graphic artist have to leave early?


Max Gadney asks for some flowers – I might suggest something a bit more accident-like, such as the immediate aftermath-picture sent out by AFP.