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The Evolution of Data Journalism
By: Contently
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In the 19th century, the streets of New York City proved to be the perfect incubator for cholera. The disease made its debut during the summer of 1832, when 3,000 New Yorkers died within a few weeks. By 1849, more than 5,000 deaths could be traced back to cholera, becoming a full-blown epidemic.

To show when the disease was most rampant that year, the New York Tribune published a chart that compared weekly cholera deaths to total weekly deaths. This comparison helped readers see that while total deaths declined during the last week of June 1849, cholera deaths actually began to rise—a visual representation that hinted at the outbreak’s peak, which came a few weeks later.

By the 20th century, there was a noticeable shift in the way publishers used data. Instead of just plotting trends, individuals also collected data to make predictions. For example, in 1952, Navy mathematician Grace Murray Hopper and a team of programmers used voting statistics from earlier elections to predict Eisenhower’s win within one percentage point. This eagerness to predict elections was carried into the 21st century by FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver, who accurately predicted 49 out of 50 states during Obama’s first presidential bid. (Although Silver didn’t fair as well during the most recent election.)


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About the Author
This article was first published by Contently.com. A link to the original can be found at the bottom of the post. www.contently.com
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