That’s One Way of Looking at It

I’m part of a graphics team that works on short- and long-term projects and breaking news. Accordingly, we have unique opportunities for graphic presentations. Here are a few examples from news stories. Some are simple, others more complicated.


This is a standing graphic I update whenever North Korea fires off another missile. Every year and missile is accounted for starting in 1984, when Kim Jong Un’s grandfather launched North Korea’s first projectile.


This is a stylized pictograph showing the horrifying survival rate of Africans kidnapped and sold into slavery in the New World. The source is the Smithsonian Institution and this is for our upcoming 1619 project on the first recorded arrival of Africans in the English Colonies.


This chart shows changes in credit card interest rates and how they fluctuated during the 2008 recession and subsequent changes in Federal Reserve interest rates.


We used the classic 1933 movie version of King Kong to demonstrate how skyscrapers in foreign countries tower over those in the U.S. My colleague Jim Sergent came up with the idea.

The movie does not depict Kong climbing the entire height of the Empire State Building, but it does show him going up the 200-ft. high mooring mast. I ran that particular clip on YouTube over and over, timed it, calculated his overall ascent rate, and applied it to the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates to give readers an amusing and memorable idea of that tower’s height.

Ramon Padilla did a wonderful job of illustrating the concept. A link to the story and interactive is here.


The recent Senate confirmation of Supreme Court associate justice Brett Kavanaugh was one of the most contentious in the court’s history. This chart compares vote totals and gives historical perspective to the Kavanaugh confirmation.





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Apollo 11: Memories of Yesterday and Plans for Tomorrow


As you’d expect, USA Today did a good amount of coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the first time humans walked on the moon.

My contributions were the research and design of a few special print pages, and research and writing for an online presentation looking ahead at NASA’s next missions to the moon.

I was especially proud of the diagram showing how far astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin walked on the moon. The distances were taken from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter taking photos of manned landing sites from 15 miles up in orbit. I worked with Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration to get the correct dimensions.

I started with this:

tranquility base

And came up with this:


A link to the online story looking ahead is here.

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The Apollo 11 Photo, Explained

071619-Apollo-Photo-HF02_Social 5

I did an interactive chart and a couple of promotional images for this story on one of the iconic photos of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The piece addressed the various items you see in the photo and explains why they look the way they do.

Even 50 years after the landing, conspiracy theorists still insist it was faked, as if the space program is only a Capricorn One event. The items noted in the photo are often invoked to support this viewpoint.

The chart is here. This is the first panel:



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Buried Bombs Show War Isn’t Over


I did the graphics research for this story about unexploded World War II ordnance — bombs to artillery shells to hand grenades and everything else — being unearthed over decades on Guam.

Understanding Guam’s war history is vital to comprehending why these explosives are still being found. Japan seized the island shortly after Pearl Harbor in 1941; the U.S. liberated Guam in 1944.

Two animated maps tell the story: 1) How U.S. Marines and Army troops retook Guam in battles moving north/northeast across the island and 2) How Guam’s development and growth (and accompanying construction) caused the buried bombs to be found.

My colleague Karl Gelles did a top-notch job on the maps, based on my independent research and a database assembled by the U.S. Navy. The story ran in USA Today and the Pacific Daily News, a USA Today Network publication.

A link to the story is here.


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The Trouble with Truffles

Antique illustration of "Les chercheurs de truffes" by Vayson

I used a conversational approach for this explainer graphic on truffles — the mushroom-like fungus that’s a prized delicacy among food aficionados.

The appeal of truffles isn’t in their taste. It’s in their aroma and the way they impart flavor to other food.

I was able to verify a couple of historical quotes about the attraction of truffles and closed with a great observation from Anthony Bourdain, the late celebrity chef.

This accompanied a story by Marco Della Cava, the same reporter who did the Mavericks wave story.

A link to the graphic is here.

A link to Marco’s story is here.




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Everything You Want to Know About Boeing’s 737 Max 8 Anti-Stall System


This is a straightforward look at the anti-stall safety system aboard Boeing’s 737 Max 8 commercial aircraft. This ran March 14, 2019, as part of our coverage of the Ethiopian Airline crash in which 157 people died.

The Max 8 jet was the same as Indonesia’s Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed Oct. 29, 2018. All 189 passengers and crew were killed.

We used text and images to describe the Max 8’s MCAS — Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System — which is designed to stabilize the aircraft in flight.

It took time to find an aeronautical source that would go on record with me about the system. Boeing declined, citing the federal investigation. Component manufacturers and even some universities did not want to weigh in.

I finally found the aviation people at the Florida Institute of Technology, who were quite helpful.

A link to the explainer is here.


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Yes, a Story About Dogs Being Killed for Food is Difficult to Write and Will Break Your Heart

South Korea Dog Meat Farm (Farm 10)

This longform graphic, another volunteer effort of mine, seeks to concisely explain the history of dog farms and dog consumption in South Korea, and why it’s on the wane.

It accompanies a March 6, 2019, story by Thomas Maresca, a USA Today correspondent.

This was difficult to research and write about, but I strove to keep personal bias out of the graphic. We’re observing vast cultural differences here and I did not want to be the ignorant American imposing my values on someone else.

For the record: The notion of killing and eating dogs and cats horrifies me. I’m also horrified by American slaughterhouses — the surreptitious Humane Society video of cows being tormented before slaughter brings me to tears — but I still keep eating hamburgers and chicken sandwiches.

So I don’t have a moral high ground here. Accordingly, I kept the dog story as accurate and dispassionate as possible, since this is not an opinion piece.

A link to the graphic is here.

A link to the story is here.

030719-Dogs-SOCIAL_Social 8 copy 2

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