Lena Groeger


Lena Groeger is an investigative journalist and developer at ProPublica, where she makes interactive graphics and other data-driven projects. She also teaches design and data visualization at The New School and CUNY. Before joining ProPublica in 2011, Groeger covered health and science at Scientific American and Wired magazine. She is particularly excited about the intersection of cognitive science and design, as well as creating graphics and news apps in the public interest.

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Lena’s work on Source


  1. How (and Why) ProPublica Got Into the Elections Game
  2. Five Things I Learned Making a Chart Out of Body Parts
  3. Design Principles for News Apps & Graphics
  4. Anatomy of the “Living Apart” map
  5. The Making of ProPublica’s Pipeline Safety Feature

Articles by Lena

  1. Forms Matter

    How the design of forms can decide an election, affect racial profiling & shape identity

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    Whether you’re filling out a form or building it yourself, you should be aware that decisions about how to design a form have all kinds of hidden consequences. How you ask a question, the order of questions, the wording and format of the questions, even whether a question is included at all—all affect the final result.

  2. When The Designer Shows Up in the Design

    How our assumptions, perspectives, intuitions—and yes, our biases—shape what we design and how we design it.

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    The unintended ways that assumptions, perspectives and biases find their way into our work as journalists, designers and developers. We’ll look at how the decisions we make—what data to base our stories on, what form those stories should take, how they’re designed, who they’re created for—always come out of our particular point of view.

  3. If It Needs a Sign, It’s Probably Bad Design

    More words won’t solve your design problem

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    Adding more text is a bad way to compensate for bad design.

  4. How (and Why) ProPublica Got Into the Elections Game

    A Q&A with the team behind Electionland and the Election DataBot

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    Yesterday morning, ProPublica announced two new projects: Electionland, a large-scale intiative to report on voting access and problems in the upcoming US elections, and Election DataBot, a comprehensive election-info data tracker and feed.

  5. Discrimination by Design

    The many ways design decisions treat people unequally

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    Discriminatory design and decision-making affects all aspects of our lives: from the quality of our health care and education to where we live to what scientific questions we choose to ask. Here are just a few of the many tangible, visual examples that humans interact with every day.

  6. Five Things I Learned Making a Chart Out of Body Parts

    The story behind a graphic on insurance that turned into an unlikely viral hit

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    Last year, an interactive graphic about insurance turned out to be one of ProPublica’s most popular pieces of the year. I’m going to tell you about some things we learned in the process of designing and building it, from its bovine origin story to the challenges of visualizing an eyeball.

  7. Too Human (Not) to Fail

    How design keeps you from screwing up and prevents disaster when you do.

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    Lots of everyday objects are designed to prevent errors—saving clumsy and forgetful humans from our own mistakes or protecting us from worst-case scenarios. Sometimes designers make it impossible for us to mess up, other times they build in a backup plan for when we inevitably do. But regardless, the solution is baked right into the design.

  8. How Typography Can Save Your Life

    What words look like matters—in some cases, a whole lot

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    Typography is an aesthetic choice, but it’s also an interface element that can help keep drivers and astronauts safe—or put real people in danger.

  9. Seeing the Error of Your Ways

    How Information Graphics Reveal Your Brain’s Blind Spots

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    Chances are, you probably think your mind works pretty well. But, in reality, our brains fool us all the time with blind spots and biases. So what can we do about it? Let’s examine how graphics, including charts, interactives and other visual tools, can help show us the shortcomings of our own minds.

  10. On Repeat

    How to use loops to explain anything

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    GIFs and other looped images are mightier than journalists might imagine. Lena Groeger explains the legend, the myth, the GIF.

  11. A Big Article About Wee Things

    What Waldo Has to Do with Every Little Thing

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    Lena Groeger on the magical powers of every little thing.

  12. Design Principles for News Apps & Graphics

    Lena Groeger’s lowdown on how to apply classic design principles to your newfangled interactive graphics and apps

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    Lena Groeger’s lowdown on how to apply classic design principles to your newfangled interactive graphics and apps.

  13. The Making of ProPublica’s Pipeline Safety Feature

    Lena Groeger explains how she investigated and mapped pipeline incidents

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    Last week, ProPublica released an explainer on fires, chemical spills, explosions, and other incidents related to US oil and gas pipelines, along with an interactive map and a series of charts and tables. Reporter-designer-developer Lena Groeger explains how the project came about, what challenges she encountered, and how she assembled the final presentation.

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