Journalism: A realistic portrayal of the Australian wildfires scope

Journalism: A realistic portrayal of the Australian wildfires scope

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Earlier this week, ABC News put out this appalling (and wrong!) graphic implying that one-third of Australia was on fire.

This was later corrected to this graphic which still overstates the land area that has burned (each dot is generally larger than the underlying fire):

23,000 square miles have burned, which is a lot of land. The San Francisco Chronicle, fortunately, has created several graphics with Google Maps that properly illustrate the size of the area burned – its a catastrophe but its a LOT less than implied by most media images.

Here’s a thumbnail view but click the link below for fullsize versions of this and other map overlays.

This is how news ought to be, providing information in a way that is accurate and easy to understand. Good job by SF Gate.

Source: Three times the size of the Bay Area: The scale of Australia’s bushfires – SFGate

Update:

January 20, 2020. 36,978 sq files have burned, corresponding to 1.3% of Australia’s land mass

Update: 

January 10, 2020. 32,400 square miles have burned, corresponding to 1.1% of Australia’s land mass.

In the summer of 1974-1975 15% of Australia’s entire land mass was burned in wildfires.

Historical context matters, but the media is a context-free, usually fact-free and logic-free zone.

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