I'm Alvin Chang, a journalist
who likes data, doodling, and code.

Hello! I'm the head of visuals and data at the Guardian US. I'm also a part-time assistant professor at the New School.

I enjoy covering how small decisions accrue into invisible problems that lead to discrimination, segregation, and ultimately dehumanization. And I make those things visible using data viz, interactives, cartoons, and videos.

I've been a data and visual journalist at Vox, the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, the Boston Globe, and the Connecticut Mirror. I grew up in Kansas and I have a master's degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. I was featured in the The Best American Infographics.

Please feel free to reach out for any reason! I enjoy random chats.

I created a new format at Vox called the "cartoonsplainer." These are deeply reported, data-centric stories that are told with charts, interactives, and, of course, cartoons. I've talked to the Columbia Journalism Review and PolicyViz about some of the thinking behind these stories.
Is your district using school zones to make segregation worse?
I worked with a researcher, Tomas Monarrez, to show how thousands of local school districts actively choose to make racial segregation worse. Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones said this was "such important work." Former US education secretary John King said this was "powerful analysis." And the Education Writers Association awarded this story "Best Visual Storytelling." I talked to Open News about how this piece was done.
Living in a poor neighborhood changes everything about your life
I started this piece like I do every other piece: doing meticulous research, conducting lots of interviews, and analyzing loads of data. But when I sat down to write this story, I realized the best way to tell it was... a cartoon. And that's how "cartoonsplainers" were born. This piece is often used as required reading in university courses.
How the internet keeps poor people in poor neighborhoods
Visualization isn't just about representing data; it can also be used to show how complicated systems work. This piece uses GIFs to visualize an invisible phenomenon. The Asian American Journalists Association named this the best multimedia story in 2017. This piece was cited in an ACLU letter to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and in academic work.
College scholarship tycoon, a game
I created this simulation game from scratch, using the basic building blocks of HTML and Javascript. This piece started as a normal cartoonsplainer, but I realized there was a larger system I wanted my readers to understand, which is how it ended up looking like this. I used data and research to build the underlying game mechanics, and I used my reporting to create the rules of the game.
I consider myself a reporter first, so my goal with data viz is to tell a clear, evidence-driven story. Most of my data viz is bar charts and line charts. But even when I make fancier visualizations, the goal is still the same.
Every time Ford and Kavanaugh dodged a question, in one chart
The morning after the Senate testimony of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, I sat in bed reading through the transcripts. And I started noticing a trend: One person answered the questions; the other person didn't. So I turned this transcript into data and visualized it. Within minutes of publishing, the chart went viral. This piece was awarded "Best Use Of Data in Breaking News Story" from the Data Journalism Awards, and I was interviewed about this piece by Open News.
American segregation, mapped at day and night
I read a lot of academic research to find compelling visual stories. And sometimes you hit the jackpot. In this piece, I mapped how Americans move throughout the day in every major American city. When you toggle the map from day to night, you'll see what I mean.
The man who rigged America's election maps
I always knew, in theory, that gerrymandering had ramped up in the last two decades. But I wanted to see exactly how it was done, so I dug into the data and the secret files of a Republican operative who drew the maps. What I saw was far more brazen than I'd ever thought.
Sean Hannity has become the media’s top conspiracy theorist
I analyzed of two years of Hannity transcripts, and I learned that since President Trump's election, the show pushed more conspiracy theories than any other news program. For this project, I scraped Reddit's /r/conspiracy and cross-referenced news programs with that content. My piece was references in a New York Times Magazine profile of Sean Hannity; he called it a "typical left-wing attack," and said he's been right when his colleagues have been wrong. Alex Jones called me a "soy boy" after this piece ran.
I've had wonderful collaborators during my career. I'm proud and lucky to have been a part of these teams.
The real reason Boeing’s new plane crashed twice
I learned so much about pacing, editing, and visual storytelling while working on this piece. It started with a rough sketch I made after I read a story about the design decisions Boeing made with its 737 MAX. After I did my research, reporting, and scripting, I wondered: Is this even a good video? But my colleagues Dion Lee and Kim Mas showed me how they think through these storytelling challenges, and my editor, Adam Freelander, showed me the power of structure. This piece has been cited in academic work, lauded by the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and it's been viewed nearly 10 million times.
How tax brackets actually work
I wrote a quick visual explainer on tax brackets and posted it on Vox.com, and didn't think much of it. But a few days later, my colleague Christina Thornell said it would make a great video, and my colleague Kim Mas helped us execute this by using construction paper. I love this piece because we often stumble on Twitter and Reddit threads where people recommend our video as the place to learn how marginal tax rates work.
The Listserve
The Listserve is a massive internet list where, each day, one person won a lottery to write to everyone else. This five-year long project was covered by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Observer, Fast Company, Time, WNYC, and the New York Times. It was such a joy to conceptualize and execute on an overly ambitious idea with this wonderful group of people: Greg Dorsainville, Zena Koo, Yoonjo Choi, and Josh Begley. Our core value was that the internet needs quiet, intimate corners, and that's what The Listserve was.
Other stories
These are stories that are meaningful to me in one way or another.
When my dog died, I didn’t understand why it felt like a human had died. Then I read the research.
My very old dog died, and I dug into what I was feeling in a highly academic way. What I learned was something profound about humans relationship with dogs. To this day, I get dog lovers emailing me about this story and wanting to tell me about their dogs.
I trolled my IRS scammers for weeks. I learned something really dark.
During a one-week period, I got so many scam calls that I decided to see how far it would go. I still get a lot of scam calls. I talked to CBC Radio about this piece.
Draft lessons of NHL enforcers
My first job was as a writer and editor at ESPN Insider, and I ended up writing a lot about hockey. I wrote data-driven on the NHL draft, trying to figure out how teams can best build championship teams. But one day I stumbled upon an oddity: There were a bunch of players who weren't good by metric, but were paid millions of dollars to be on NHL rosters. Who were they? What was their purpose? How did they get there? They were enforcers.
Water bowl
Art installation
It looks like a mere bowl of water, but dip your hands in – deeper and deeper - and you'll hear something magical. It's one of my favorite projects I've worked on, in collaboration with Cyrus Von Hochstetter, Thutiphong Luangaroonlerd and Yoonjo Shin.
Art installation
Sit in a canoe, wade through water and explore a digital channel full of surpises. Made in collaboration with Suzanne Kirkpatrick and Ginny Hung.