Project description

Max frequently covers the intersection of geography and demography, primarily on political and economic issues. He works on a wide range of projects in terms of scope, research and reporting, often collaborating with other journalists.

What makes this project innovative?

Max’s work tries to answer the ‘why’ by focusing on the ‘where’ of a subject. This plays out in longer-term projects such as the article on bicyclist deaths, which used an increasingly focused lens on the geography of these events by beginning the story at a national scope and moving down to the street level. Along the way, the analysis revealed the causes for this rising public hazard by creating a database of the most dangerous streets in the U.S., ultimately used to determine the most dangerous place to bicycle—a superlative that highly engaged readers. This approach is also apparent in the “Races on the Radar” midterm election preview, which compared population density with political leaning among each congressional district to reveal a unique depiction of the election battleground. A map can often tell a story better than any other visual device, but sometimes translating the locations to summary data can be more powerful. An example of this is the Trump Rally graphic comparing the places Donald Trump holds his rallies to the rest of the country, which showed that his politicking stayed largely within a “comfort zone.” The ability to analyze, filter and visualize large data sets within the time constraints of a rapid news cycle is crucial. This situation was the case with December Jobs graphic, a highly anticipated economic report among our publication’s readership. By constructing a narrative, design scheme and set of highly focused graphics to move readers through the many components that contributed to that month’s record jobs growth, the story was told simply, precisely and importantly, quickly.

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

Some of these projects here received thousands if not hundreds of thousands of page views, high engagement time and also generated new subscriptions. But the biggest impact was the letters and correspondence received from readers reacting to these projects.

Source and methodology

Bicycle deaths: A wide ranging list of sources from the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration FARS database (deaths) to the Census Bureau and IPUMS (population, road classification, demographics) to the Florida Traffic Crash Records database (local crashes) to Pinellas County (buildings) and several others. Midterm Landscape: Primarily Cook Political report (politics) and U.S. Census/IPUMS (population) Trump Rally: Primarily U.S. Census December Jobs: U.S. Labor Department

Technologies Used

For geographic analysis I use ArcMap/spatial analyst; ArcScene; and QGIS. For interactive components: D3.js. For everything else: Access, Excel, Illustrator, Photoshop and in one component of “Midterm Landscape”: DeltaGraph.

Project members

Max Rust


Additional links


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