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Equal Pay Day: How Big is the Wage Gap Between Men and Women?

April 14 is Equal Pay Day, symbolizing the number of days into 2015 (in addition to all of 2014) that the average American woman would need to work in order to match what the average man made in 2014 alone, according to Department of Labor estimates.

Although the the gender wage gap has significantly narrowed in recent decades, it still persists to a notable degree. According to the DOL, women are paid on average 78 cents for every dollar made by a man. That gap is even wider for women of color. Continue reading

50 Years after “Bloody Sunday,” Still Miles to Go in March for Voting Rights

Selma to Montgomery march, 1965. (Bruce Davidson/Magnum)

Selma to Montgomery march, 1965. (Bruce Davidson/Magnum)

Thousands of marchers joined President Obama and other leaders this weekend in the small city of Selma, Alabama, where 50 years ago police violently attacked peaceful demonstrators demanding the right to vote. Continue reading

7 Billion and Counting: How Our World Got So Crowded So Fast [Videos]

Roughly 1 billion people lived on our planet in 1800. And that was a pretty major deal, considering it took all of human history — at least 50,000 years — to reach that.

But today, just a little more than 200 years after, our population is at 7.2 billion and growing.

So what happened? How’d our population get so big? And how much room is left before we reach maximum capacity? Continue reading

What’s the Fastest Way to Board A Plane? (hint: probably not how you’re doing it now)

Rejoice! The holiday travel (and shopping) season has finally come to a close.

If you braved the friendly skies at some point in the last two weeks and found yourself a tad frustrated by the glacial pace of the boarding process, there’s a decent chance you’re not alone. It’s pretty easy to notice the obvious inefficiencies in the boarding methods of different commercial airlines.

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News That Moved: The Biggest Stories of 2014

Another year, another year-in-review article.

In the sea that is breaking news, 2014 was a tsunami. A multitude of tumultuous events shook the world this year (sometimes literally). And although it’d be silly to attempt to quantify the “most important” stories,  it is worth looking at the topics that American audiences were most drawn to and that seemed to have the greatest impact. As a gauge, these are the results from the Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and an independent survey of Twitter’s biggest news-related trending topics.

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Shopping Math: Percentages and Discounts Explained in Three Animated Videos

Includes animated videos

Happen to be doing some frantic, last minute holiday shopping this weekend? If so, you’ll likely find yourself inadvertently diving head-first into a big stew of math.

Take that $130 pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing. Let’s say Macy’s just marked it down 20%. And on top of that, you’ve got a coupon for 10% off your entire purchase. So, you’re looking at a sweet discount of 10% off 20% off $130.

So … how much are those shoes going to cost you?

From sports to the news, to — most importantly — shopping, percentages are hard to avoid. To help make sense of it all, animator-explainer extraordinaire Josh Kurz breaks down the basic math of everyday percentage conundrums (including the answer to the above question) — in three animated acts.

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Everything You Wanted To Know About Grand Juries (But Were Afraid To Ask)

Confused about grand juries? You’re probably not alone.

A New York grand jury in early December voted to not criminally charge a white police officer in the choking death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man. The decision came just 10 days after a Missouri grand jury declined to charge Darren Wilson, also a white police officer, in the shooting death of Michael Brown — also an unarmed black man. Both decisions stoked outrage and protests in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, where the respective deaths occurred, and there have been continued protests in other cities across the nation, including Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco.

In the tsunami of media reports and analysis following the two decisions, reporters and commentators have dropped legalese like it’s a universally understood dialect (and yes, I recognize the irony of using the word “legalese,” which is itself kind of legalese). Truth is, the law can be super complicated and obscure, and — speaking for myself here — a lot of legal terms and procedures that we news folk are wont to use aren’t always so frequently understood.
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Why California’s Drought is America’s Problem

Despite a few recent downpours, California remains stuck in one of the most severe statewide droughts on record.

But it’s far from just California’s problem. The state produces a huge percentage of the nation’s agriculture — nearly half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts, by some estimates. And that requires a massive amount of water: farms here use about 80 percent of the state’s developed water supply.

Much is riding on the upcoming rainy season. Because if not enough water remains valuable for farmers to adequately irrigate their land, the impact will likely be felt far beyond the state’s borders.
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Ebola: A Collection of Multimedia Teaching Resources

A health worker sprays the sole of a colleague’s shoes at an Ebola Isolation Clinic in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo by Staton Winter, United Nations


A health worker sprays the sole of a colleague’s shoes at an Ebola Isolation Clinic in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo by Staton Winter, United Nations

Since the Ebola outbreak claimed its first victim more than nine months ago, an estimated 5,000 people in five West African nations have been infected, and nearly half of them have died. It’s the worst Ebola outbreak on record; it’s been wreaking havoc for months, but until recently, has been largely overlooked by the international community.

That changed in early August, when the first American to contract the virus was brought back to the United States for treatment. And this week, President Obama announced plans to provide support. Continue reading

Words of Warcraft: How Presidents Wage War

Includes videos

President Obama’s address on Wednesday authorizing U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIL or ISIS) in Syria, was a sobering reminder of the immense power bestowed on the Commander in Chief to single-handedly order military action.

Like his address last September threatening the use of military force against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (a threat that never materialized),  Obama’s most recent speech was the latest in a long history of solemn presidential declarations of war and authorizations of lesser military action.

Since World War II, the United States’ increasingly large and powerful military has been quite busy, to say the least, consistently involved in conflicts around the world. In little over half a century, American forces have fought in five all-out wars (Korea, Vietnam, the first war in Iraq, Afghanistan and the second war in Iraq) and been involved in many additional smaller military invasions.

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