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ProPublica Data Visualizations Win Two Malofiej Medals

The Society for News Design España announced on Thursday that ProPublica projects won two medals, one gold and one bronze, at this year’s Malofiej, a prestigious annual competition honoring the best infographics in media from around the world.

Hawaii’s Beaches Are Disappearing,” a ProPublica Local Reporting Network project with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, won a gold medal in the innovation format category. The story exposed the various ways in which coastal homeowners have used loopholes to circumvent Hawaii’s environmental laws at the expense of the state’s beaches. To show people the high stakes of the policy debate, the Star-Advertiser’s Sophie Cocke worked with ProPublica news applications developer Ash Ngu to create an interactive graphic that allows people to tour a stretch of Oahu coastline. With the use of drones and advanced techniques that tie the footage to shoreline maps, it seamlessly shows how the area’s beach has been devastated by seawalls, property by property. Using databases built from thousands of pages of paper records, the piece also includes a feature to allow readers to search whether properties had received permits to keep older seawalls or to construct new ones.

States Are Reopening: See How Coronavirus Cases Rise or Fall” won a bronze medal in the features category. The visualization by Lena Groeger and Ngu sought to answer a simple question: Is the COVID-19 situation in my state getting better or worse? To show whether infections were going up or down, Groeger and Ngu created a novel data visualization that let people see, at a glance, how states compared. The main graphic featured arrows placed in a rough geographic arrangement, a mapping technique known as a cartogram. To show when a state would be able to reopen, they built a section for each state, sequentially stacked in alphabetical order. In a series of easy-to-read charts, they showed where states fell on five COVID-19 measures, each based on White House guidelines for what states needed to do to reopen safely. They also included green checkmarks or red X’s to indicate whether a state “passed” each one of these measures.

See all of this year’s Malofiej Awards winners here.

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