18 Graphs That Show What The New York Times Talks About

This cool new tool graphs what words the paper’s been talking about since 1851.

The New York Times just launched a cool data tool called Chronicle that graphs mentions of words and phrases over time. It’s a fascinating look at what the paper and the country cared about since 1851. Try it out! It’s awesome.

Here’s a few we checked out:

ID: 3452460

1. Cat vs. Dog

1875 was apparently a banner year for cat news. Today, dogs rule.

ID: 3450998

2. Billionaire vs. Millionaire

You know what was cool in 1900? A million dollars. You know what was cool in 2000? A bilion dollars. You know what was cool in 2010? This joke.

ID: 3451052

3. Kale vs. Avocado vs. Quinoa

I suspect the early popularity of “kale” may be because it used to be a man’s name.

ID: 3451111

4. War vs. Peace

As Megadeth said, “Peace sells, but who’s buying?”

ID: 3451206

5. Staten Island vs. Queens vs. Manhattan vs. Brooklyn vs. Bronx

Contrary to what it feels like, the Times has gotten LESS obsessed with Brooklyn. Brooklyn mentions peaked around 1894 – the year the borough officially joined New York City.

ID: 3451245

6. Boomers vs. Millennials

Some early “boomers” talk probably related to various financial booms. The modern baby boomers are still more talked about than their kids.

ID: 3451299

7. Yuppies vs. Hipsters

1980s: “Die yuppie scum.” 2000s: “Die hipster scum.”

Pretty much accurate.

ID: 3450937

8. Wal-Mart vs. Amazon

Pre-1990s mentions of Amazon are related to the actual river.

ID: 3451904

9. Harvard vs. Princeton vs. Yale vs. Stanford

Looks like Yale peaked in 1925.

ID: 3451836

10. Stupid vs. Ugly

The 1950s were the nicest time. We’re haters now, apparently.

ID: 3451952

11. Alcohol vs. Drugs. vs. Tobacco

This really shows the different concerns the last 150 years. Alcohol mentions had a big bump during Prohibition, but now “drugs” are more newsworthy (this includes mention of prescription drug news). Tobacco is sooooo over.

ID: 3451927

12. Marijuana vs. Heroin vs. Cocaine

Pot today is the heroin of the ’70s. Cocaine peaked in 1990.

ID: 3451317

13. Muslim vs. Moslem

You can see their style guide changed right around 1990.

ID: 3451965

14. Opera vs. Hip-hop

Even still, opera rules at the Times.

ID: 3452059

15. Los Angeles vs. Chicago vs. Boston vs. San Francisco

Sorry, Boston :( Los Angeles is the most talked about city now.

ID: 3452145

16. The U.S. presidents since Kennedy

The buzziest president was… Carter?!?!?! (orange) Who’da thunk!

ID: 3452427

17. Saddam vs. Hitler

Saddam Hussein was mentioned in a higher percentage of overall articles in 2003 than Hitler in the peak years of World War II. However, if you look at the version of the graph for total number of articles (there’s a toggle switch at the bottom of the link), Hitler wins.

ID: 3452301

18. Bieber vs. Hitler

Hitler is STILL beating Justin in terms of NY Times mentions, even today.

ID: 3452269

Keep trying, Justin.

Handout / Reuters

(Justin’s mugshot from earlier this month).

ID: 3452645


The Saddam vs. Hitler chart previous misstated the comparison between the two names. The graph (and all the others here) show the percentage of total articles mentioning the names, not the total number of mentions.

ID: 3453431

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