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The Great Graphics Glut of the 2013 papal conclave

Catholic cardinals may be voting for the next pope this week in a process shrouded in secrecy, but the papal conclave is still a fantastic media spectacle — as thousands of people wait with bated breath to learn the identity of God’s new representative on earth. And as if the stakes weren’t sufficiently high, the ...

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Catholic cardinals may be voting for the next pope this week in a process shrouded in secrecy, but the papal conclave is still a fantastic media spectacle — as thousands of people wait with bated breath to learn the identity of God’s new representative on earth. And as if the stakes weren’t sufficiently high, the selection is occurring against the backdrop of the salacious sex abuse scandal that has rocked the church in recent years. Nevertheless, media organizations covering the conclave face a serious obstacle: The real action occurs behind closed doors, far from the prying eyes of television cameras.

The result? A Great Graphics Glut. At media organizations the world over, editors have been keeping their designers busy churning out myriad graphics to explain the arcane process of a papal conclave.

At the Washington Post, we imagine the editing process for their graphic went something like this: Designer: “Hey [insert editor’s name], here’s that conclave graphic you asked for.” Editor: “Well, I like it, but is there any way we can get more Michelangelo?”

Meanwhile at the New York Times, the editors had their designers draw up a graphic reimagining the voting cardinals as a group of hunchbacked Saturday-morning cartoon characters. 

In Britain, the Guardian did away with the idea of a static graphic and, instead, rolled out a slick interactive.

Not to be outdone, the BBC took a cue from their flashier colleagues across the pond and put together an interactive segment on the conclave in their 3-D studio.

The burning question, of course, remains who should be the next pope. The Guardian tried to provide answers with an interactive graphic allowing readers to choose a new pope based on the qualities they would like to see in a pontiff. Depending on one’s political leanings, the results can be a bit depressing (h/t @altmandaniel):

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering cyberspace, its conflicts, and controversies. @eliasgroll

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