A great story on from the NYT today on their “Talk To The Newsroom” feature. The interview is with Graphics Director Steve Duenes, and while there is some very interesting Q and A’s about their process for anyone involved with informational design, the highlight for me was the story told in response to the question of “What’s the best graphic you’ve ever done?”. Which for a creative is a tough question, it’s like asking which of your children you like the best.
Duenes’ response is a really cool story crystallizing the power of even a simple visual explanation. Nicholas Kristof, one of the paper’s columnist, had done a series of columns on third-world disease. These columns formed the genesis of Bill and Melinda Gates’s interest in world health issues. The couple told Kristof this on a trip they all took to Africa to see the work the Gates Foundation was doing. Kristof sends an email to the NYT Graphics department relating this episode to them. I’ve included the relevant section below.
Great! I was really proud of this impact that my worldwide reporting and 3,500-word article had had. But then bill confessed that actually it wasn’t the article itself that had grabbed him so much — it was the graphic. It was just a two column, inside graphic, very simple, listing third world health problems and how many people they kill. but he remembered it after all those years and said that it was the single thing that got him redirected toward public health.
No graphic in human history has saved so many lives in africa and asia.
I’m sending you a copy of the story and graphic by interoffice mail. whoever did the graphic should take a bow.