The A Section By the Numbers

A visual tally of all of the photographs of subjects deemed important enough to make it into today’s New York Times A section. Concept: Max Whitney. Layout/design: Max Whitney and Beth Whitney.

  • Men- 73
  • Women-16
  • Baboons-2
  • Dog-1
  • Gas Jockey-1
  • Car-1
  • Children-3
  • Dying Trees-2
  • Website-1
  • Ghoul-1
  • Paintings of Important Men-2

Statement about the work from Max Whitney:

I look at human communication as a series of stories and assume most
are untrue. To try to get at something true, I lean on math, and on data. Looking at 1 day of the print New York Times, it’s almost impossible to find a single true thing. News happens in context: day over day over day. A single day is just a snapshot. I tried to dig some bigger meaning out of the one day then. What are the patterns? A textual analysis or a topic analysis was going to be hard to do without OCRing the text and running some python scripts. The simplest pattern to look at was just faces: How many people appear in news photographs in section A of the paper? How many houses? How many plants? Not surprisingly the news photographs were dominated by people- we know from cogsci that people like to look at faces, and well, on some level ‘news’ is ‘what people are doing.’ The interesting pattern which emerged was the ratio of male to female faces in the news photography. When I look at the news now, I will be asking myself: where are the women?

 

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