Banksy banana mastermind?

Banksy banana mastermind?
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Visualizing the Drug War

The Agence France-Presse, a french news agency, published an article in June 2013 documenting the use of social media by Mexicans as a way to report on the drug war. The article was picked up by many news outlets, including The Raw Story.

"With traditional media often intimidated by drug cartels, social media has given Mexicans a way to stay appraised about the dangers lurking their towns and cites."

How bad is the violence that many media outlets refuse to cover it? How real are the threats? There are many accounts of violent killings and attacks on non-cartel civilians (including journalists), but how pervasive are these attacks?

Diego Valle, a Mexican blogger who frequently writes about the drug war, generated a chart which shows how drug war violence is spread across mexico.

His visualization helps to put the violence in perspective. Using the line graph, one can adjust the options to see how drug war violence has changed over time. The map helps put in perspective where this violence is occuring.

Stephanie Yamkovenko, an award-winning data journalist, discussed 5 tips for data visualizations in Quill, a publication of The Society of Professional Journalists.

One of the five recommendations she has is to search for information or data that is not included in a data set. Impressively Diego Valle does this very well by combining many different data sets - each one adding another piece of information or perspective that is not included in the others.

Just like video or photography, effectively using data visualizations can make a story much more understandable and compelling to the reader.

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