The history of this interactive graphic is an interesting one in that it ended up being far different from where we started.
Several years ago we had the idea for a graphic to statistically show over time and geography, where and how U.S. Forces were dying in Iraq. We never produced the piece, but the idea didn’t go away.
Now, as we mark our fifth year in Iraq — and 4,000 service men and women dying there — we decided to go forward with the package. At first the graphic was going to use maps and bar charts. Then we realized that wasn’t really going to cut it. It would be too cold, too isolated, too out of context.
That’s when we decided to simply show everyone and make it so users could create profiles or search on various criteria. When the idea came up, everyone latched onto it. We knew it was the right way to go.
I had an inkling that when users would first encounter this package, they would start out by typing their own names. Or their home towns. Or their ages. As I’ve watched people, that’s exactly what some have done. But many have also done something else. They’ve left the filters alone and just hovered over each and every dot, soaking in the name and photo (if we have one) of each person killed. It’s tremendously moving.
The comments on the site show quite a range of responses, from war supporters and war opponents thanking us, to war supporters and war opponents cursing us. I think our piece is war agnostic. It simply tells people about the men and women who died there.
In the months to come I hope we can expand on this graphic — not in number, but in content. We want to add marital status, number of children, bios and more. It’ll take time and I’m not sure we’ll have the resources to do it. But I’m hopeful that we will and can. Meanwhile, check it out and let me know what you think.