May 11, 2023

Meet Mona Chalabi, The Data Journalist Who Just Won A Pulitzer For Her Illustrations

Mona Chalabi New York Times Illustration

Data journalist Mona Chalabi has won a Pulitzer Prize for her “striking illustrations that combine statistical reporting with keen analysis to help readers understand the immense wealth and economic power of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.”

The 36-year-old’s award-winning illustrations were published in a New York Times piece entitled “9 Ways To Imagine Jeff Bezos’ Wealth” last year.

POCIT sat down with Chalabi back in 2015 for a candid discussion about her work as a data journalist.

“A data journalist is one who uses data as much as they possibly can in their work–which I know sounds really really silly, but it means I can write on any subject whatsoever; the only criterion is that data has to be available,” she told POCIT.

Born to Iraqi parents in London, Chalabi’s journey led her to study at the University of Edinburgh, and then Paris Institute of Political Studies in France where she earned master’s degree in International Security.

Using words, color, and sound, Chalabi rehumanizes data, enabling readers to better help us understand our world and the way we live in it. Her popular instagram page

In addition to her popular Instagram page, her work has been featured in renowned publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Guardian, where she currently serves as the data editor. Additionally, her video, audio, and production contributions have made appearances on platforms like Netflix, NPR, the BBC, and National Geographic.

When asked about her advice for those interested in this field, she emphasized the importance of not being daunted by the subject matter.

“I think the exciting thing—but at the same time the tough thingabout data, is that a lot of your learning has to be self-directed. Sure you could go back to university and payloads of money for a data course, but it’s far better to start off with a topic you care aboutPlanned Parenthood, guns or racial equality for example—and see how you can use data to understand this issue you care about.”

“Every single day I’m Googling how to do something, reading a guide online. As long as you relish those learning opportunities and don’t take it as “Oh what’s wrong with me? Why don’t I know this stuff?” you’ll be okay.”

You can read our full interview with Mona Chalabi here.

Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)