Best of 2016

By my calculations, the Reuters graphics team published 450 interactive or digital graphics and over 1,000 static graphics in 2016. Here's some highlights starting with the more recent projects. I'll add another instalment in the next few days.


Nuclear North Korea

We published a number of graphics on North Korea’s nuclear program and missile capabilities through the year, culminating in a nicely presented narrative page. Publishing coincided with more rhetoric from Kim Jong Un on the North’s missile program near the end of the year.

The piece showed how North Korea dramatically increased the pace of its missile testing in 2016 and defied U.N. sanctions to push further ahead with the development of nuclear weapons, detonating two devices including its most powerful to date. 


Part of the piece then moves on to the technology of the weapons tested. North Korea claims that it had tested a miniaturised hydrogen bomb, also known as a thermonuclear device, a step up from the less powerful atomic bombs they had tested previously. However, outside experts are skeptical and believe the bomb may have been a “boosted” device, and not a full-fledged H-bomb.

The Bank of Japan’s monetary policy explained

The Bank of Japan has led Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's effort to stimulate the world's third-biggest economy, but its often innovative steps have yet to end decades of falling prices and feeble growth.

To help explain what it all means, the graphics team produced an animated guide to the often bewildering world of QQE, YYC and other tricks of the BOJ trade.

The project was conceptualised after the BOJ introduced Yield Curve Control in late September. A number of brainstorming and fact finding sessions with colleagues in Japan and editors in Singapore helped us straighten out the mechanics of the monetary policy so we could start to storyboard a draft script. After weeks of polishing the story we settled on a final storyboard and began to draw up the illustrations. The animation was then put together in Adobe After Effects along with the narration.

See the video here

MH370: The world’s largest search

The story on the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet gathered some steam towards the end of the year with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau issuing a report in December saying new evidence suggests the plane could have come down north of the search area. This standalone graphic looks at all elements of the search which is due to be wrapped up in early 2017.  


The piece opens with a map showing the areas searched. Aside from giving geographical context and basic information on the flight, the goal waste also show scale. The amount of area covered in the search was immense. We thought that with an area that size, the best object that could be compared for a sense of scale was probably the world itself, hence the orthographic, or globe shaped, projection.

The chart that followed illustrated just how slow the underwater operations are compared to the surface search.


The rest of the graphics look at the equipment and technology used during the search.


The search was called off earlier in January with no trace of the jet being found so far. Investigators have recommended extending the search further north in the Indian Ocean. Full graphic here.

China's debt burden

The Reuters graphics team produced an engaging interactive guide to the major aspects of China’s debt issues, deconstructing the back story using a combination of data and hand drawn artwork to illustrate each step. 

The story begins in 2009, when China launched a $600 billion economic stimulus program during the global financial crisis. The government unleashed a wave of borrowing by state firms that is proving to be a burden today. 

To tell this story, a scroller was programmed to move through an illustrated version of China’s economy across the top of the page. As the reader scrolls through the chain of events, a different part of the economy is highlighted along with the accompanying narrative and chart.

Moving to the present, China's debt this year reached more than 250 percent of GDP. In particular, China’s corporate debt has risen sharply and this is where most worries are focused. An analysis of Reuters data in the second half of the piece looks at this current situation.

We extracted corporate data for two large groups of Chinese companies, those listed in China and those listed in Hong Kong. A number of filters were applied when compiling the companies to make sure we were working within a comparable data set. The Chinese listed companies are represented by 1,193 mid- to large-caps who reported net debt in 2008 and 2015. The rise in the number of companies in the unhealthy band is striking.

Chinese listed

Likewise in the Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong. These companies are generally considered to be among China's healthiest due to greater financial disclosure rules. The accompanying visualization with that section shows how the number of companies considered to be healthy, shrank from 72 to 49.