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PBS NewsHour


One of the things I have loved about working at Upstatement is that it has given me opportunities to work on projects that I would never have dreamed of being able to do before. Things that felt like they matter, like Covid Protocols.

PBS NewsHour was another such project. It began back in 2018, when PBS NewsHour was looking for a way to generate various graphics for part of their election coverage. Unlike a lot of Upstatement projects, this one kept coming back. We initially did coverage for the 2018 mid-terms, then the 2020 primaries and general election, then the 2022 midterms.

There were a decent amount of parts to this because there were a few problems to solve.

The Upstatement Case Study talks more about the design, and friend and coworker Scott Batson wrote a stellar Blog Post about the web component aspect that he worked on.

The first set of graphics are for races and candidates
The second set of graphics includes exit polls, maps, and candidate comparisons
The third set includes graphics for battlegrounds, delgate tracking, and calendar

What neither really talk too much about, though, is the part that I'd worked on during the first engagement - which is the Dashboard, a sort of control room for actually generating these visualizations.

An example of one of the graphic's controls

The dashboard was built with VueJS, and was meant to allow you to generate different graphics for different kinds of data, for different platforms. Certainly a level of information that could be confusing. But the actual usage of it feels simple. When you select options and ensure that the graphic is displaying as you want / expect it to, you can then use it easily for any of the cases required - download it as an image, include it as a web component, or activate "broadcast mode", which removes the controls and sizes it appropriately for a 1920x1080 resolution that will appear as part of a video stream. You can see how the broadcast ones looked by viewing PBS NewsHour YouTube Videos

In 2022, in addition to doing work to prep for those midterms, I also spent a few months doing a complete overhaul of the system, cleaning up some of the graphics, adding more controls, and making more graphics able to parse data from more races. I have no idea how many elections this will continue to be used for, but I'm so incredibly proud to have gotten to work on it.

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