At the end of every year, we’re jealous of Bloomberg’s “Jealousy List,” a collection of stories that staffers wish they had published. We’re so jealous that we’re making monthly lists of our own.
So here are four stories published by other journalists last month that made us envious. Hopefully, our jealousy will lead to your discovery.
“Nike Says Its $250 Running Shoes Will Make You Run Much Faster. What if That’s Actually True?”
By Kevin Quealy and Josh Katz, The Upshot
Nike claims that runners who wear the company’s pricey Zoom Vaporfly 4% running shoes can see efficiency gains of up to 4 percent. That’s a lot in a sport with slim margins between winning and losing. But are those numbers correct? Lab studies are limited by their small sample sizes, but The Upshot was not. Kevin Quealy and Josh Katz used tens of thousands of real-life performance records from the Strava app to look beyond the Nike-sponsored lab studies and find out how the shoes performed in real events. That’s really cool, and what I really admired about the piece was the detailed yet accessible way that Quealy and Katz described their methodology and explained the strengths and weaknesses of the numerous analytic approaches they tried. No matter how they sliced the data, it pointed to a similar conclusion: Runners really did seem to perform better when wearing the Nike shoes.
— Christie Aschwanden, lead science writer
“Here’s How America Uses Its Land”
By Dave Merrill and Lauren Leatherby, Bloomberg
Sometimes, just sometimes, data visualization can infuse the daily, the boring and the rote with a sort of deep and austere beauty. The American Time Use Survey is one example: We wake up, we go to work, we go home, we eat, we go to bed. But aggregate those familiar actions across all of us, and visualize them, and it’s a stark and lovely portrait of our collective self. These maps from Bloomberg are another example. We farm, we build houses, we build airports, we protect public parkland. Aggregate it and map it, and it’s a beautiful portrait of the “1.9 billion-acre jigsaw” we call the United States.
— Oliver Roeder, senior writer
“Comparing US City Street Orientations”
By Geoff Boeing
I shuttle between Boston and New York at least once a month. Despite the cities’ significant difference in size, their geographies take up the same amount of space in my mind. The explanation for that might lie in these charts, which summarize the orientations of major U.S. city grids. Manhattan is almost purely orthogonal, while Boston is a rat’s nest of byways.
— Gus Wezerek, visual journalist
“One of the World Cup’s best goals was even crazier than you thought”
By Seth Blanchard and Reuben Fischer-Baum, The Washington Post
Are you still suffering from World Cup withdrawal? Me too. Which is probably why I’ve read and reread this piece from The Washington Post so many times since the end of the tournament. It takes a pretty confusing stat — expected goals — and makes it digestible and relatable. Soccer statheads still debate how much weight you should put on expected goals, and this article does well to present the benefits and pitfalls of that stat. Plus, it gives you a reason to rewatch Benjamin Pavard’s incredible goal for the millionth time.
— Tony Chow, video producer