Project description

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, we wanted to find a way to visualize the scale of school shootings that also highlighted the human loss. Our chosen approach was a list of names of those killed since 1990: As the reader scrolls down the page, a list of names gradually builds, eventually becoming so large that it must shrink to fit the screen. This name-based approach called for fast work, and the data research and graphic design and development were carried out in tandem in a single day.

What makes this project innovative?

This is a straightforward yet powerful visualisation that brings a new twist to the fashionable "wall of words" design. By gradually building and eventually scaling the list of names, the number and scale of shootings over time becomes clear without overwhelming the reader.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

This graphics was well-read by our readers; but it was also appreciated by some of those affected by school shootings. The mother of a one child – the only person from his school killed in a relatively obscure shooting from last year – said she was grateful that he was not being overlooked.

Source and methodology

We began with a database of school shootings that reporter Tawnell Hobbs had been building for several years. A team of reporters – Tawnell, Kate King, Jennifer Levitz, Valerie Bauerlein, Jennifer Smith and Sharon Terlep – verified the names of those killed through media reports, court records, and by contacting the schools and families of victims. The final list of names was complete within 24 hours of the project beginning.

Technologies Used

To create the interactive graphic, we plotted a map using ArcGIS and dynamically manipulated its appearance using D3. The "scroll-to-progress" interface, which allows readers to intuitively scroll through time using the page as a scrubber, was implemented with ScrollWatcher, a JavaScript library developed at WSJ and open-sourced in 2016.

Project members

Max Rust and Tyler Paige

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