About The Why Axis

Welcome to the publication where I’ll be exploring, in visual form, the data shaping and informing our lives. Those trends will naturally intersect with the news cycle in some places, but I'm even more excited about the times when they won't -- data points that explain some odd quirk of human behavior, or shine light on an unexplored corner of the economy, or put the modern era in historic, geologic, or even intergalactic perspective. 

Do you ever find yourself with weird, random questions like, “What’s the most gerrymandered congressional district in America?” Or “How many goats are there in the United States?” Or “Is it just me or does Zuma get a lot less screen time on Paw Patrol than the other pups?” If so, you’ll love it here.

But we’ll also be digging into the data behind some meatier issues too, like the very real threat that growing authoritarianism in the GOP poses to American democracy, and how the mainstream American press is currently ill-equipped to deal with these issues.

The Why Axis will be doing it all, five times a week, each day from Monday through Friday. Some newsletters will exclusively be for paid subscribers (I have a lizard to feed, after all): for starters I’ll be bringing back #NameThatData, the quiz game where I make you a labeled chart or map and challenge you to tell me what it is. Paid subscribers will also get exclusive peeks into the data that gets left on the cutting room floor of these explorations: the fun stuff buried at the bottom of the report. I may also do some special data-driven shitposting exclusively for subscribers as well.

I’m a chartmaker by trade

My name’s Christopher Ingraham. I wrote about all things data for the Washington Post for the past seven years. Prior to that I was a data visualization specialist for the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center. There’s a good chance you know me as the guy who inadvertently unleashed hundreds of crickets in his house.

I’m also author of the book If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now, the story of how an obscure USDA dataset led me on a journey to middle-of-nowhere, Minnesota, the place I now call home — along with my wife, three sons, two orange cats, one rescue dog, one smol rabbit, one spoiled bearded dragon, one tankful of promiscuous poison dart frogs, and several active colonies of live insects to keep the lizard and frogs’ bellies full (another perk for paid subscribers: you’ll be the first to know about any subsequent bug containment incidents at the Ingraham household).

I believe that data can be fun, and that some of the best ways to write and learn about it are hard to do in a traditional newsroom (that, incidentally, is part of why I left the Washington Post).

If any of this sounds interesting to you, I invite you to subscribe, and to get ready to learn something new.