Wanted: Prints That Visualize 20 Years of New York Times Stories

Oh so pretty, but there's fascinating information in there as well.

Here at Co.Design, we're infographic freaks. We're also avid New York Times readers. Which has us convinced that Jer Thorp — data artist-in-residence at The New York Times — created these gorgeous data visualizations exclusively for us.

Available in a limited edition of 50, each of the prints visualizes word frequencies in the Times over a 20-year period. The one above shows how often the Times printed the words "red," "green," and "yellow" from 1981 to 2010; the one below shows how often it printed "hope" and "crisis" in the same time frame.

Before we get to what they're telling us, a word on how the data's arranged. Thorp calls his prints "timepiece graphs" — that is, they're organized like clocks. Each bar represents a month, with January 1981 at the 12 p.m. position, then the bars moving clockwise from there. Dates and mentions of specific events and key words (United Nations, Central Intelligence Agency, etc.) are thrown in here and there to orient the viewer.

The interesting things to note in the hope/ crisis chart are the gray spikes: Those indicate times when crises eclipsed hope — either that or Times reporters abused "crisis." (In the case of the financial meltdown, we suspect it was a mix of both.)

The color chart is meant to be more whimsical. As Thorp tells us in an email: "I thought it was an interesting counterpoint to the fairly serious subject matter of hope/crisis. While it is largely playful, there are some interesting trends in the image - both green and red increase quite significantly in frequency over time, due probably to the environmental movement and 'code red' respectively."

Buy the prints for $100 a pop here.

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1 Comments

  • Anna K Donahue

    Interesting and so is history…who reads it anymore? Does Thorp customize?