4.27.2007

Chartistry in progress

Zubin Jelveh left The New York Times, made a six-month stop at Reuters, and started working recently for Portfolio, where he landed a coveted columnist position and began charting a course for success with Chartistry, his one-of-a-kind melding of infographics and economics insight.

Graphics impressario John Grimwade, Portfolio's graphics editor, works on the column with Zubin, and finds ways to bring his considerable expertise to the visual explanation of some of business journalism's most-complex topics.

The Blog talked to Zubin about what's working so far with the fledgling column, how he came up with the idea in the first place, and what his ambitions are for the future.

The Blog: What was the genesis of the column?

Zubin: The idea came out of a conversation I had with Chris Jones, our managing editor, about new ways of covering financial news. I think it's fairly obvious to someone who visits our homepage that we pay a lot of attention to the visual presentation of news. Chartistry fits in this mold in that 1) It lets us try a style of reporting that we hadn't seen elsewhere, and 2) It allows me to combine my two strengths: economics and multimedia.

The essence of the column is to present economic news and concepts in a visually appealing and -- eventually -- interactive way. Looking around at how other outlets cover economics -- and in my opinion most of them do a fine job at it -- we felt that with a field so rich in data, there were a lot of untapped opportunities to give readers a place to go where they can make connections at a glance, while also providing some context for those who wanted to go deeper.

What are the Cubs worth? A recent column on sports franchises

The Blog: Will Chartistry ever hit print?

Zubin: With its blog-like nature, news-driven content, and planned focus on multimedia, Chartistry is a beast conceived by Web people for Web readers.

The Blog: We know you have some ambitious ideas for Chartistry: What are your plans for developing more voice and style as you begin doing more of these?

Zubin: My primary short-term goal for Chartistry is to incorporate reader interaction. To start with, one of the pieces next week will allow readers to navigate through different charts according to their interests.

Ultimately, I'd like to reach a point where in some columns readers will be able discover information about themselves and see where they fit in within the larger group.

In the future, we'd also like to try different layouts. As I think anybody who has worked at a news site knows, most everything is template-ized, so doing the type of text and graphical interplay you see in print is harder to accomplish.

That said, we're considering some different presentations that will allow us some more freedom design-wise. That's the great thing about the Web: You can try different things and if any of them suck, you can just throw them out.

As far as content goes, after writing mostly about Wall Street-related information at my previous position, it's great to be in a place that allows me the freedom to go much wider into the realm of culturally significant economics reporting.

Feedback: Zubin says he would love to hear from anyone in the SND community who has ideas for Chartistry, so please drop him an email.

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