Last night, the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno student senate passed a bill that would about double their yearly pay, much to the chagrin of commenters on the Nevada Sagebrush website and Facebook page. ASUN officials have defended the bill as a necessary way to decrease senate inactivity and apathy, with students countering with failures to stop tuition hikes and other senate failures isn’t a reason to give themselves a raise.
I’ll leave my personal opinion out of this for the time being, because there’s another issue that I want to address with the Sagebrush’s coverage of the event. In last Tuesday’s issue, a graph appeared along with a story on the proposed hike, which I’ve posted below:
There’s one rather large issue with this graph: it doesn’t equally increment the scale on the left, which leads the proposed increase to look smaller than it actually is. After a comment deriding the poor judgment was made by cartoonist and illustrator Paul Horn, the Sagebrush changed the graph to be more accurate, which was put together by Horn:
It’s immediately obvious how much of a change that this pay increase makes when presented this way. Professional designer Charles Apple goes over this problem of misrepresenting information in graphs within his own blog on a seemingly weekly basis, and it is definitely a problem. Journalists have a responsibility to accurately present information not only in stories, but also in a visual manner. There was no reason for the other graph’s y-axis to be structured in the way that is was, as it cuts out about a $1000 worth of graph points; nearly the exact change proposed by the Senate. In the future, I’d like to see the Sagebrush put more of an emphasis on making sure that their graphs and information are accurate, rather than stories about erectile dysfunction or a Humans vs. Zombies game.