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A Timeline of Media-Inflamed Fears (2000-2017)

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A Timeline of Media-Inflamed Fears (2000-2017)

A Timeline of Media-Inflamed Fears (2000-2017)

Modern media does not always have the best reputation for providing complex and nuanced commentary.

The news cycle is sensational enough when we’re dealing with the regular issues of the day. But add in some uncertainty and urgency – such as when the world is dealing with an outbreak like SARS, Mad Cow Disease, Ebola, or even Y2K – and each headline seems to get more provocative or speculative than the last.

Today’s graphics come to us from Information is Beautiful, and they show the intensity of news mentions for different topics that stoked frenzies in the media from 2000-2017.

Visualizing Ebola Sensationalism

We all make mistakes, but headlines for Ebola brought a new level of hyperbole to the table.

“Ebola in the air? A nightmare that could happen” – CNN (link)
“New Ebola Cases May Soon Reach 10,000 a Week, Officials Predict” – NYT (link)
“Ebola as ISIS Bio-Weapon?” – Forbes (link)

In fact, the outbreak in 2014 goes down as the most sensationalized events in the last 17 years.

Here’s all other topics scaled to match Ebola mentions (which go “off the page” in the first graph):

Nothing is even close.

By the way, it turned out that Ebola didn’t mutate into a scary airborne virus. The CNN article with the crazy headline even admits in the body of the article itself: “Speculation that Ebola virus disease might mutate into a form that could easily spread among humans through the air is just that: speculation, unsubstantiated by any evidence.”

Meanwhile, Ebola cases hit a maximum rate of 6,987 in a month, mainly because of delayed reporting of older cases in Liberia. Regardless, that is just 17% of the predicted “10,000 cases per week” rate reported in a New York Times headline.

Finally, as you’re probably aware: ISIS did not weaponize Ebola, either. Made for good clickbait, though.

Scaled to Death

When we scale the data to match total deaths, the sensationalism of many of the outbreaks is even clearer:

The death count for Ebola did eventually hit 11,310 globally, and Swine Flu resulted in 18,500 lab-confirmed deaths (and potentially many more). However, most of these outbreaks were relatively harmless in relative terms. The Zika Virus, for example, resulted in only a handful of deaths.

While having zero deaths is certainly the ideal, and many of the issues above should be taken very seriously especially as stories develop, we should be careful not to blow things out of proportion. Making mountains out of molehills does not help anyone, and it adds to growing distrust of media in general.

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Demographics

Visualizing 200 Years of U.S. Population Density

This animation shows the population density of U.S. counties between 1790 and 2010, showing the westward expansion of the country’s population.

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Visualizing 200 Years of U.S. Population Density

At the moment, there are around 326 million people living in the United States, a country that’s 3.5 million square miles (9.8 million sq km) in land area.

But throughout the nation’s history, neither of these numbers have stayed constant.

Not only did the population boom as a result of births and immigrants, but the borders of the country kept changing as well – especially in the country’s early years as settlers moved westwards.

U.S. Population Density Over Time

From a big picture perspective, here is how population density has changed for the country as a whole over the last 200 years or so:

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But today’s animated map, which comes to us from Vivid Maps, takes things a step further.

It plots U.S. population density numbers over the time period of 1790-2010 based on U.S. Census data and Jonathan Schroeder’s county-level decadal estimates for population. In essence, it gives a more precise view of who moved where and when over the course of the nation’s history.

Note: While U.S. Census data is granular and dates back to 1790, it comes with certain limitations. One obvious drawback, for example, is that such data is not able to properly account for Native American populations.

“Go West, Young Man”

As you might notice in the animation, there is one anomaly that appears in the late-1800s: the area around modern-day Oklahoma is colored in, but the state itself is an “empty gap” on the map.

The reason for this? The area was originally designated as Indian Territory – land reserved for the forced re-settlement of Native Americans. However, in 1889, the land was opened up to a massive land rush, and approximately 50,000 pioneers lined up to grab a piece of the two million acres (8,000 km²) opened for settlement.

While settlers flocking to Oklahoma is one specific event that ties into this animation, really the map shows the history of a much broader land rush in general: Manifest Destiny.

You can see pioneers landing in Louisiana in the early 1800s, the first settlements in California and Oregon, and the gradual filling up of the states in the middle of the country.

By the mid-20th century, the distribution of the population starts to resemble that of modern America.

Population Density Today

The average population density in the U.S. is now 92 people per square mile, although this changes dramatically based on where you are located:

If you are in Alaska, the state with the lowest population density, there is just one person per square mile – but if you’re in New York City there are 27,000 people per square mile, the highest of any major city in the country.

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Misc

The Top Earning Celebrities, Dead and Alive

Celebrity status can be a powerful tool for building a fortune. These infographics visualize the world’s top earning celebrities, both living and dead.

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Wealth does not always follow fame, but when properly monetized, stardom can be a powerful tool for building a fortune.

The act of turning one’s self into a marketing machine is epitomized by 21-year-old Kylie Jenner, who was the fourth highest earning celebrity in 2018. Leveraging her massive social media following, Jenner has turned Kylie Cosmetics into a force to be reckoned with. Recently, Forbes valued her company at over $900 million.

Today, we look at not only the world’s top earning living celebrities, but also the estates of the celebrities who are no longer with us as well.

Fame and Fortune

With a nickname like “Money”, it comes as no surprise that 2018’s top earning celebrity was Floyd Mayweather. The boxer’s bouts in 2015 and 2017 are still the top earning pay-per-view fights of all time, with the respective payouts propelling him to the top of the celebrity earnings list. His most recent opponent – Conor McGregor – also cashed in big, ranking 12th on the celebrity rich list.

Here is a full look at last year’s top earning celebrities:

top earning celebrities
View a high resolution version of this graphic.

Many celebrities earn big sums of money on specific contracts, so it makes sense that the top 10 shuffles a lot from year to year. Despite this, soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is the sole celebrity to remain on this list for every year covered by the visualization.

Ed Sheeran’s Divide album was a runaway success earning him $110 million last year. Not only did the singer sell 1.1 million albums – an impressive feat in the digital age – he was the most streamed artist of 2017.

One somewhat surprising entry into the top 10 is Judy Sheindlin – better known as Judge Judy. Sheindlin reaped a huge windfall after selling her extensive 5,200-episode library to CBS.

Posthumous Profits

Some celebrities are so iconic that their influence extends well beyond their own lifespan.

Michael Jackson’s music is still thrilling listeners around the world, and as a result, his catalog is raking in the posthumous profits. In 2018, the late singer’s estate earned more money than any living celebrity, adding to the $2 billion already amassed since his passing in 2009.

Below is a full look at the top earning dead celebrities:

top earning dead celebrities
View a high resolution version of this graphic.

For the first time since 2006, Albert Einstein has fallen out of the top 10. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem owns the rights to Einstein’s likeness, and in the aughts the “Baby Einstein” brand helped them (and Disney) amass a fortune. The popularity of the Baby Einstein brand is waning, but other licencing deals could bump the famous physicist back into the list at some point in the future.

No Business Like Show Business

Even celebrities who passed away decades ago can continue earning a shocking amount of money. While income streams like song royalties continue rolling in automatically, some savvy companies purchase estates from family members and take the marketing of deceased personalities to the next level.

Companies like Authentic Brands Group, have turned timeless icons like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley into full-fledged brands generating tens of millions of dollars per year through licencing and royalties.

Artists like Bob Marley and Dr. Seuss produced a body of work that still captures our imaginations today, so it makes sense that their estates continue to profit as time goes on.

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