The New York Times is probably the most committed of all media outlets worldwide to using data graphics, and I love them for that. Most of their charts are of high quality; much chartjunk is avoided.
The NYT does have a blind spot.
Or might we say blinding spots? Its obsession with bubble charts, bubbles fitted in grids, bubbles overlapping, bubbles bursting out of grids is maddening. Examples abound:
The bubble chart, a particular fancy of professional consultants, is just behind the pie chart as a useless form of data graphics. Note I said "data graphics", as bubbles have value, albeit limited, in conceptual diagrams. If one only cares about bigger vs smaller, then bubbles are okay.
If one is concerned about how much bigger, then bubbles are misleading. Further, bubbles contain no scale, implicit or explicit; one cannot decide if any given bubble is large or small (relative to what?). Witness the Costco-Walmart chart above: is bubble "17" big or small, the chart gives no reference level, neither a range nor an average.
The human brain works linearly, and we tend to grossly misjudge differences in sizes of bubbles. Blinding spots indeed!
What percent larger is the Mega? (Click on the question under the image to reveal the answer.)
I wish the NYT editors would take note and put an end to these blinding spots!
Thanks Pius for helping with the mouseover image while I´m travelling.