America’s pandemic safety net

Country/area: Singapore

Organisation: Reuters

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 28 Apr 2020

Credit: Chris Canipe, Ally Levine and Howard Schneider

Project description:

In April, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve set up roughly a dozen programs to keep people and businesses afloat during the coronavirus crisis, aimed at limiting bankruptcies, company failures, and family stress. The programs funneled trillions of dollars to people and businesses left reeling as the economic consequences of the pandemic multiplied. Reuters set out to explain the complicated web of Treasury and Federal-Reserve aid programs in plain language.

Impact reached:

This project was widely viewed on Reuters.com and shared across social media. It can be difficult for average citizens to parse the complexity of legislation and programs as massive as COVID relief. This piece gave the layman a digestible look at what was being prioritized and how as the government responded to the crisis.

Techniques/technologies used:

Ally J. LeVine illustrated the charts in Adobe Illustrator. We leveraged the Ai2HTML library to convert those artboards to HTML and image assets, which we then controlled through JavaScript.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part was breaking down complicated programs and concepts into plain language without sacrificing accuracy or nuance. When your principal data relies on terms like “municipal liquidity” just parsing and understanding that data can be a challenge all unto itself. What are these things, what are the natural breakpoints, how can they be categorized in ways that are meaningful for a reader? These were the questions we had to wrestle with. 

Finding those answers and shaping them into an engaging and easily accessible narrative were the core drives of this piece.

What can others learn from this project?

A subject that at first blush might seem “dull” may be shiny after all! Illustration, engaging narrative, scrolling flow can go a long way to making obtuse concepts accessible and what might seem dry actually be quite fun while being informative.

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