Take a look at these images from Jornal Nacional, the main TV news program in Brazil. Two nights ago, they announced the US$/BRL rate had dropped. They used a line chart. The angle of the line is big. Major drop? No. It was a 0,05% drop (from 1,723 to 1,722).
Then last night, it was up. A much bigger difference, at +0,34%. The line chart? It is there. The angle of the line? The same.
Conclusion? It is not a line chart. It indicates just a binary information: if the rate is up or down. Isn’t the up/down arrow already doing exactly that? So why use a line-graphic-like image, that implies the idea of “angle=quantity of change”?
Earlier in the week:
Brazil and its 135.000.000 voters had a major task last weekend, the Election Day for President, Governor, Senators, Congressmen and State Legislators. With results from 27 states for 5 different executive and legislative positions changing every minute (the election is 100% digital, no paper ballots), TV channels needed to show a lot of data in the clearest way possible.
GloboNews, the 24h news channel from major communication conglomerate Globo, used a giant touch screen device to show the results. The presenters were responsible for touching the screen and changing what was shown. It was an impressive move for the audience, who started calling it “GloboNews’ giant iPhone” on online forums.
But was it the best way to show information? First of all, the presenters had some awkward moments, when they couldn’t touch the right place, when nothing worked, or even when the whole thing froze, showing an error message (below).
The maps and charts were all shown in perspective, which not only distorted the information, but also made it hard for the audience at home to see it in some cases. What is the point of using area-comparing charts if the area is distorted?
The percentages were rounded up, so that there were fewer digits and the charts and tables would look cleaner. This decision caused a strange situation, though. When results were listed, candidates with fewer votes would appear in a higher position, when the round-ups leaded to the same percentage (in the photo above, note how many votes Zé Maria and Eymal have).
In the end, it was clear that the giant iPhone was there to give GloboNews an image of a high-tech channel, instead of being in service of clear an effective communication.