You are part of a nimble graphics team in a digital newsroom publishing on a CMS eerily similar to WordPress. Your audience is made up of tech-savvy, graphics-loving 25 to 45-year-olds in major U.S. cities. They’re mostly on their phones. It’s Wednesday night and your editor wants to publish a light-hearted story late tonight that includes a graphic element. And she doesn’t mean a stock photo. She wants something branded, something new. It could be a couple bar charts, a simple map, a word cloud, a Storify, or a before-and-after slider image. It’s up to your team and what you think would best complement the story. You have 45 minutes before happy hour.

  1. Split into four teams
  2. Choose a light-hearted story (or light-hearted angle) from the week’s news (The Star Wars trailer by the numbers, Postseason baseball and fantasy sports, San Francisco stop-as-yield cycling law, 18th century artifacts in Boston Common, Not enough cooks in the kitchen, etc. etc.)
  3. Quickly, find and copy the text of a story from a major news outlet. Aim for the 300- to 500-word length. This is just placeholder copy while the reporter and editor gets you final copy.
  4. Find the data you’ll need for your graphic (some will be provided: Star Wars scripts)
  5. Choose one tool from the deck of cards (Chartbuilder, Google Maps, Google N-gram viewer, Storify, Raw, JuxtaposeJS, Wordle or TagCrowd alternative, WordCounter)
  6. Sketch out your idea on paper first.
  7. Then, build it! 
  8. Publish the plain text and your graphic(s) as a post on the Media Innovation WordPress site.
  9. Considerations: Will it complement the story? Will it distract? What data do I need?


The top 50 words used in the script for Star Wars: A New Hope


Character_mentions_in_the_script_of_Star_Wars-_A_New_Hope_mentions_chartbuilder (1)


The frequency of “Luke,” “Han” and “Leia” in Google Books since 1800


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