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A study performed by the UOC analyses the increased importance of graphic contents compared with text contents in the press

19   July   2017

Increased weight of programmers and statisticians in news teams.

Increased weight of programmers and statisticians in news teams.

“The most viewed content in the history of the digital version of The New York Times is an infographic on dialects", observes Alberto Cairo, professor at the University of Miami and, since 9 June, holder of a doctoral degree from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) after defending his thesis "How data and digital technology transformed new graphics".

Cairo has analysed the transformations experienced by the graphics used in the press during the last 20 years, interviewing more than 30 professionals – mostly from the United States – who work for media such as The New York Times or The Washington Post.

"In the past, the press published mostly figurative infographics of real objects or places. Nowadays, the most common type of graphic is more abstract and is based on data displays", Cairo points out. "Today, we have more digitized, open-access data than ever, and tools that enable us to use them", he adds. The University of Miami professor explains that this situation has led to the recruitment of professional profiles that are highly specialized in media, including programmers, website designers and experts in statistics. "In the past, infographic services catered to journalists' reporting needs. Today, they generate their own contents, with fully self-supporting stories", he explains.

In the research for his thesis, Alberto Cairo also analyses the Malofiej Awards, a world-famous infographics event. Analysing these awards, he has found that there has been a shift from giving awards mainly for figurative graphics to a greater balance between those that are and those that are not. "At this event, not only graphics from The New York Times or National Geographic win prizes. Media such as Clarín in Argentina or El Mundo in Spain are also being highlighted. In fact, after the US media, the Spanish media have the highest number of awards", Cairo specifies.

Alberto Cairo's thesis was supervised by Jordi Sánchez Navarro, professor at the UOC's Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences.

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