The New York Times and Graphical Maturity

In Edward Tufte’s dry-sounding but classic book on data presentation, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (which is actually very readable), he draws up a table of the ‘Graphical Sophistication’ of 15 international news publications (see page 83). Der Spiegel and The Economist do well, as do two Japanese papers, Asahi and Akahata. The New York Times comes about half-way down the list. I was reminded of this earlier when I saw this graphic in the NYT, which accompanies a story on the decline of marriage amongst middle-aged men. Although even I could spot some lessons from Tufte’s book which could improve it, it’s heartening to see that grown-up statistics and presentation are nevertheless alive. One of Tufte’s core rules is to ‘Maximize the data-ink ratio, within reason’. This graphic is a good example.

The book is rated ‘One of the best 100 non-fiction books of the 20th century’ by


This story on Der Spiegel's website might go some way towards explaining its good standing in that table:,1518,415763,00.html