Timely Infographics: Sharing Breaking News

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Although your infographic is unlikely to be the sole source of breaking news, it can help readers’ understanding of a breaking news event. For instance, many people learned on Twitter in October, 2011 that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had died. An infographic wasn’t going to be the first anybody heard of it.

But the folks at Infographic World created an infographic looking back on his life and his accomplishments (called Farewell to a Genius), in a way to showcase a visual story that had not been told yet. (See the figure.) So in that sense, the infographic was breaking news.

This graphic ended up being a viral sensation, getting featured on Mashable for several weeks, and then getting picked up by tens of thousands of other websites across the world over time.

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Another way your infographic can be seen as “breaking news” is by illuminating an issue or piece of data in a way people hadn’t considered before. Data by itself is interesting enough, but without context, understanding of it can be shallow. A good goal for your infographic should be to surprise people with your data. Tell them something they didn’t already know.

For instance, did you know that more Americans are in prison than are active-duty members of the military? After some research, you learn that in 2011, there were more than two million incarcerated offenders in the United States. In 2013, there were slightly less than 1.5 million active-duty members of the military.

By comparing the figures graphically, you’re taking existing data and looking at it and presenting it in a new way to tell an original story. The following figure shows how you could compare the two numbers in an infographic.

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Timely infographics can be immensely successful, but be warned: Their popularity will wane as public interest in the news cools.