The National Debt: Visualized

Category: Best visualization (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: United States

Organisation: The Wall Street Journal

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 8 Mar 2019

Credit: Brian McGill

Project description:

Breaking down the U.S. National Debt into digestible and quantifiable ways.

Impact reached:

Was discussed in the U.S. congress. Several congressman tweeted it out to their constituents

Techniques/technologies used:

I used a scraper to grab the daily number from the Treasury department and calculated it down to the closest second. Talked with the Treasury about the breakdown and visualized it using ‘scrollytelling’

What was the hardest part of this project?

Working with the Treasury to have daily access to the latest number and making sure that traffic from our site wasn’t pinging their site too often causing it to crash. Why should it be selected? Because it gives viewers real time up-to-the-second access to just how much debt the U.S. owes and by showing just how massive this number is and what it means going forward for the country.

What can others learn from this project?

How big the U.S. debt truly is. Who owns all of it. How many other things the debt can buy.

Project links: