Speaking of experiments in simplification (see here), I found a perfect example in the New York Post. (Courtesy to their marketing team who had the bright idea of handing out free copies of the paper a few weeks ago.)
The chart on the left bas been a staple of the Calculated Risk blog; it contains a wealth of information and by itself, it is a well-made chart. When the New York Post reported the November job loss statistic, the editors simplified the chart, which is shown on the right. When I saw this chart, I applauded: by reducing the picture down to its essential elements, they succeeded in getting their message across more proficiently.
Here are the changes that make the chart:
- Focusing on the last three recessions, as opposed to all past recessions
- With only three lines, there is no need to use a rainbow of colors
- Eliminating the minor tickmarks and labels on the time axis; this has the extra benefit of drawing attention to the zero line, which is the anchor of this chart
- With fewer labels competing for real estate, the labels could be turned around so readers don't need to turn their heads around
- Removing the graph paper background
- Keeping the tickmarks but omitting some of the labels on the vertical axis. I'd however put a -2% instead of the -4% label
Credit: NYU librarians who tracked down a scanned version of the NYP chart.