The Guardian factfiles are an excellent look at the state of our nation. (I could only find these large graphics online - but they were paper supplements containing pages of charts, graphics and explanations. (photos to follow if i find any)
I would have liked to be in the room when they were deciding which bits to do traditionally and which to innovate on. Most display is pretty traditional - but all supports the narrative. You can tell the ones that they wanted to have more fun with. None of them go too far - many current info-vis folks would have gone totally ape-shit with all this data - celebrating the complexity, renderring it incoherent.
These factfiles remind me of the Atlas series of books (but have a lot ore variety than thematic map presentation) and are a massive improvement on the short-lived weekly 'graphics-feature' which bordered on the 'graffix' treatment - I'm all for something attracting the eye and consolidating the information but these are a little glib.
These are original journalism.
No one else had these.
This article by Clay Shirky reminds us of the startling difference between the lost race to outpace the Internet in news everyone else covers and the valiant pursuit of originality for your audiences.Improvements
1 - I'd also like to see more if a running narrative throughout - it's a bit of a collection of stuff (something I am always wrestling within my work - "why have a unifying device? - surely people just want to read it?" No, they need as much direction as you can give.
2 - I personally would have called them something a little more active and exciting than 'fact file' - fact file is a bit of a dull sounding 'sidebar'.
3. Are they a bit on their own? It is in a way easier to carve out 'space for the graphics stuff' than the integration of regular, good, daily work. Newsrooms create that tension - so this is understandable.But these whinges are minor - this is original visual journalism with genuine ambition and lots of high points. What is surprising is that more people are not doing it. All papers have graphics people. (they don't all have a leader of Michael Robinson's calibre though).
I'll be buying the book (when it is here) - and I hope there's one every year - but change the title.