19th Malofiej International Infographics Awards

Between Monday 21st and Friday 25th March 2011, over a hundred graphics professionals gathered at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, for the 19th Malofiej International Infographics Awards.

The event is organised by the Society for News Design and they describe Malofiej as the ‘Pulitzer of infographics.’

At the end of the week, a panel of judges awarded eight gold medals to the best infographics in print, online and, for the first time this year, mobile and iPad apps. You can view a full list of the 2011 awards here.

I would like to focus on the 2011 gold medallists in the online category and compare them to winners from previous years, as I think it could reveal a lot about where data visualisation is heading.

The online gold medallists were:

The oil spill graphic outlines the story from day 1, April 22nd 2010, when the Deep Water Horizon rig sank. It provides a map of the Gulf of Mexico where the oil slick’s progress can be tracked day by day and a chart with the US government’s spillage estimations.

Additional features include a map detailing where the oil hit the shore and a video showing the final moments on the rig before the explosion.

It’s the second year in a row that a graphic in the ‘breaking news’ category has been awarded a gold. Last year, it was won by the New York Times for their interactive tracking of the US airways Flight 1549.

This links up to a talk by Jorge Cortés, the Graphics and Multimedia editor at chilean daily La Tercera and jury member, on the last day of the summit. He stressed the importance of creating great graphics for daily, breaking news as well as more observational visualisations, like last year’s gold winner ‘How Different Groups Spend Their Day’ by the New York Times.

The jury’s decision to once again award a gold to a breaking news graphic seems to corroborate Jorge Cortés’s point.

The second online gold relates the discovery of a dinosaur fossil in Brazil. There’s a drawing of what scientists think the creature looked like and a graphic of the fossils as they were found.

When you click on different parts of the dinosaur’s body, the fossil form it corresponds to is highlighted on the graphic. It allows you to compare the suspected shape of the dinosaur to the way the fossils were placed when they were discovered.

This award draws attention to the importance of graphics in the treatment of scientific news stories.

The final online gold was won by the News York Times graphic ‘How Mariano Rivera Dominates Hitters’. The interactive video illustrates Rivera’s throwing technique from the batter’s perspective.

Again, it’s the second time a New York Times sports graphic wins a gold. Having said this, it is executed with far more wit than last year’s winner, a video of Federer’s footwork.

To hear NYT Graphics Editor Amanda Cox’s views on the Rivera video, click here. She starts talking about Rivera 22 minutes in, but to be honest, the whole talk is really interesting.

The 20th Malofiej International Infographics Awards will take place in March 2012.

Claire Gilmore (@ClaireEGilmore)

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