2020 portfolio of Emily M. Eng

Country/area: United States

Organisation: The Seattle Times

Organisation size: Big

Cover letter:

2020 and the year of COVID-19 proved to be one of the most graphically difficult beats to cover. From breaking news to lack of data to contradictory information, the pandemic challenged me to stretch my reporting, my technical skills and my creativity. My portfolio highlights the breadth of visual skills, including infographics, mapping, charting, coding and science illustration that I utilized to help our readers understand the pandemic. 

I joined the graphics team at The Seattle Times in 2016 as a news graphics artist before being promoted to graphics editor. I work across the newsroom on all subjects ranging from the environment to sports to politics. Trained as a science illustrator with a background in biology, I bring data and facts to life. I specialize in layering information in data-driven visualizations and infographics and I work in both print and digital spaces. For each story, I innovate different visual approaches to help impact an audience and convey information in ways that educates and illuminates.

Description of portfolio:

Here’s some of my 2020 coronavirus work:

  1. CORONAVIRUS FACT PAGE: Here in Washington, we were considered the first epicenter of the infection in the United States and back in late February and early March there wasn’t much information, especially scientific, on novel coronavirus outside of China. To help illuminate what we did know at the time, I put together a poster of coronavirus facts and public health information to help our readers stay safe. The challenge was getting the information out as quickly as possible while also being accurate. So, I reached out to epidemiologists, government officials, including the WHO, to make sure that my information was correct and to review the infographic. I started my research on a Monday, March 2 and we printed the infographic as a full-page poster in our paper that Friday as a public service. Online we removed the paywall, linked to other language guides and made it downloadable so readers could print it out at home. I continued to update my story and infographic for months afterwards and have reached over 680,000 readers (pageviews).
  2. THE STATE OF OUR STATE PRESENTATION: In April, Washington state was in lockdown and coronavirus had touched every aspect of our community. We wanted to giver our readers a status update on where we were in our fight against coronavirus from all departments and beats newsroom wide. I created 15 graphs that accompanied each section and built an interactive side-by-side presentation that arranged the data visualizations to be read as part of the story text — allowing the text and visuals to play off each other. The hardest part of this story was the incoming daily new data — updating all 15 graphs the day before publication was important and necessary as we wanted to be as current as possible for our readers.
  3. LIFE CARE CENTER TIMELINE: Through our investigative work we were able to trace back how the virus spread undetected at Life Care Center a month before the first resident’s death. I built an interactive timeline to voice the 911 calls out of Life Care asking for help and compared that to the growing number of coronavirus cases and deaths. This presentation was unique as it gave you a glimpse inside the Center, through 911 audio recordings, while showing what was happening outside in our community.
  4. WHAT THE NUMBERS MEAN: Throughout the pandemic different types of data sets, figures and metrics are used to measure success. Based on reader feedback, we realized that our audience was getting confused on how to read all these graphs. So, we created this public service story, a cheat sheet/resource on what each metric and graph was showing. I created 8 graphs and used a more conversational voice with directional arrows style to highlight what to look for in each graph and what it means in terms of the virus in the community. The difficult task with this project was making these explanatory graphs without using any specific data in order to help keep them evergreen and continually useful.
  5. MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES EXPLAINED: As the pandemic continued, we covered a local researcher working with monoclonal antibodies as a possible way to slow the virus spread. The goal for this graphic was to explain what monoclonal antibodies were and how they potentially could help save lives. The challenge was simplifying a complex system like the immune system and depicting things you can’t see with your naked eye. I worked with the researcher directly to include only the relevant immune system steps and then constructed process diagram that was accurate, eye catching and still easy to

Project links: