Data Visualization in Ferguson News



I found these data visualizations while reading about the recent tension in Ferguson, Missouri. All three images accompanied the same article, yet I only believe that 2 of the 3 are well represented by its visualization.


The visualization above seems very effective. The usage of color/grey scale is appropriately used to show skin color of different members of power in the community. The first pie chart, yes I said I liked a pie chart, not only shows a big difference in the population and it also shows the exact percentage so that its more quantitative. This in comparison to the bleak amount of black shown within the elected officials is the take home message from the visualization and I think it does so well.


This next visualization is very similar to the bottom section of the first visualization. It uses labels to get its point across clearly while still being a very minimal visualization that does a great job at showing how few black police officers there are in a predominantly black community (shown from the first visualization). Overall, a very clear and concise message.


However, this last visualization does not get across the same message and because of that it seems much less effective. These pie charts, show that a majority of the vehicle stops, searches and arrests in Ferguson are of black people, but it is only slightly over the percent shown in the first visualization of the overall population. Though I agree with and support the message that I think this visualization is trying to get at, it doesn’t really express the fact that racial profiling is clearly an issue of a community that has an underrepresented amount of black police officers. The pie charts just really can’t share that much information. Overall, I feel like many different visualization techniques could have been much more effective, especially for a topic that is trying to show the data to skeptic eyes.