Interactive Development at The Atlantic

When James Fallows started work on part 2 of his Chickenhawk Nation series, I had the privilege of project managing digital extras to accompany the piece.

We decided on two maps of the U.S.: one showing enlistments per capita, and one showing total deaths. The difficulty was telling a story that made the most sense in context. Enlistment rates and deaths, for example, were exponentially higher in the territories. From the description:

Enlistment rates vary widely—in 2010, only 0.04 percent of the Upper East Side of Manhattan (zip code prefix 101) enlisted, while the U.S. Virgin Islands (prefix 008) had an enlistment rate of 0.98 percent. When it comes to lives lost, U.S. territories (particularly Guam) shoulder an outsized burden.

The following is a screenshot of the enlistment map, built by The Atlantic‘s interactive lead Frankie Dintino. Our hypothesis was that the South was bearing the brunt of the wars; we found the burden more evenly spread than anticipated:

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Another key element of the piece that our team built was the amount of money spent on parts built by contractors, particularly for the controversial F-35. Drilling into the data, we discovered a huge number of defense contractors outside the U.S. – a slightly different story than the contractors were telling.

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We also considered looking into which counties and states benefitted most from contractor presence, but the numbers showed a less-than-interesting story: members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees had a vested interest in military spending. We ditched that map idea in favor of the one pictured above.

See the article for full interactives:

Other work at The Atlantic: The Atlantic Politics & Policy; 2016 Distilled; The Atlantic Photo