Trump Wants a Border Wall. See What’s in Place Already.

The wall that President Trump wants between the United States and Mexico is a highly politicized topic. Perhaps that’s why NYT’s visualization has a neutral invitation as its title: “See what’s in place already.”

The visualization’s ideal audience are US citizens who are uninformed about the current border, from all types of political background. The facts stated that have no political leaning, such as the amount of federal land around the border, and the types of fences. This phrasing frames the visualization as unbiased, as an informant versus an influencer.

The visualization is scrolling, which allows the story to unfold before your eyes, and allows graphics to build on each other, such as adding the segments for fences but keeping the shading for land allocation. However, the scrolling feature also means that caption for the visualization can obstruct the view.

Shading and diagrams are selected carefully for effective representation, such as land, fencing, or specific locations. However, the visualization switches definitions for features, such as highlighting short fencing and tall fencing with the same color, which can result in confusion. Sources and dates for the data are often cited in the corners. Also integrated into the visualization are real-life pictures, which add credibility and emotional appeal.

While the visualization has its strengths and weaknesses, the overall neutral tone of the visualization, credibility of its data, easy to understand graphics, and the layman wording keeps the viewer’s attention through the whole visualization. These features help the visualization achieve its goal to educate its audience about the existing border protection between United States and Mexico.