Dec 10

Chronicle – Visualizing Language Usage of the New York Times

This morning, Gillian sent me an interesting data visualization tool called Chronicle, which visualizes language usage of the New York Times over time.

Just type in a term and the tool displays how frequently that word or phrase has been used in New York Times articles over the course of its history:

education chronicle


Click on a specific year and you will be taken to the articles that contain your search term. You can click on these articles and access their full text if they are recent articles (older articles require an archive fee).

education results chronicle

I don’t yet have any specific ideas about how structure a lesson around this tool, nor have I developed an idea of what a final student product would look like, but I do know there are a ton of possibilities here. Off the top of my head, here are several questions that students could use the tool to explore and answer:

  • How has news coverage changed over time?
  • How does news coverage reflect a community’s culture?
  • How does news coverage reflect historical context?
  • How does word meaning change over time?
  • What role does slang play in news coverage?


Here was my first search with the tool:

chronicle image

  • What does this following graph make you think/wonder?
  • What conclusions could we draw from this visualization?
  • How could we further explore our conclusions?


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