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How ‘Nation’ dazzled with effective infographics in running mates story

Storytelling is often done in many words. Meaning is dug out of those words. On the other hand, pictures famously summarise a thousand words and flash out meaning instantly.

The Nation pulled this superbly on Sunday, May 15.

In a story about Kalonzo Musyoka’s now caricatured demand to be named Raila Odinga’s running mate, the Nation embedded not one or two, but five illustrations.

The story heading said, “Kalonzo Musyoka digs in on Azimio running mate demand.” But the accompanying inforgraphics told a lot more in, obviously, a lot less space. Each was a powerful summary of important angles in the long search for running mates in both Odinga and Wililam Ruto’s campaigns for president.

Even before the first words were printed a chart led the story. The pictorial put Odinga on the left margin and Ruto on the right, both chins in hand, in deep thinking poses, illustrating two men with difficult decisions to make.

Between them, graphs in green, red and blue predicted voter support of each presidential ticket, in rising or dropping percentages, depending on who was named running mate.

The second graphic broke monotony after paragraph three. This was an interactive pink chart showing preferred running mates for Odinga. If you pointed the mouse on any part of the chart, candidates’ names and their support in percentage popped up. Martha Karua led a pack of ten names.

The third chart illustrated, in shades of green, Odinga’s preferred running mate support by region. You didn’t need to read numbers. The deepest green told you instantly that Karua had solid support in three out of eight regions. Four more regions followed with the second level of green intensity.

Karua’s nearest challenger, Musyoka, had a deep green in Eastern region only. He had no second level of green, anywhere; skipping, instead, to the third, faded green.

The forth infographic, again braking the monotony of wordy paragraphs, was a pie chart. Percentages in yellow against indigo background showed the most preferred running mate for Odinga. Karua had the longest running yellow.

Again, you didn’t need to read the percentage of her yellow, 41%. Its length, far exceeding others, informed you instantly.

The last illustration was a pie chart showing, in different colours, Odinga’s preferred running mate by political party.

Of all five charts, this last one was overcrowded and with diminished visual impact. It was difficult to tell which of six illustrated political parties most supported which candidate.

Still, the Nation dazzled and informed readers fantastically.

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