Alberto Cairo

Associate Professor, Knight Chair in Visual Journalism


CIB 5051-L


(305) 284-3220



Alberto Cairo is a journalist and designer with many years of experience leading graphics and visualization teams in several countries. He joined the School of Communication in January 2012. He teaches courses on infographics and data visualization. He is also director of the Center for Visualization, Data Communication & Information Design at UM’s Institute for Data Science and Computing, and a Faculty Fellow at the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy.

Cairo has been described by Microsoft as always “in the vanguard of visual journalism”. He is author of the books How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter About Visual Information (W.W. Norton, 2019), The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication (Peachpit Press, 2016), and The Functional Art: an Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (Peachpit Press 2012). His next book, which deals with ethics and moral reasoning in visualization design, will be published by Wiley in 2021.

Cairo has also written for The New York Times and Scientific American magazine.

Cairo has a popular visualization weblog,, and his Twitter account,, is followed by more than 50,000 people interested in visualization and data journalism.

In 2012, Professor Cairo created the first journalism Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in the world in collaboration with the Knight Center at the University of Texas. In the many editions of this course since then, it has attracted more than 30,000 people from more than 100 countries.

Between June 2010 and December 2011, Cairo was the director for Infographics and Multimedia at Editora Globo, the magazine division of the biggest media group in Brazil, where he acted as an executive editor for the magazines of the group. He has also been an assistant professor at the School of Journalism, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, between 2005 and 2009. At UNC he was also the James H. Schumaker Term Assistant Professor in 2008 and 2009.

Alberto Cairo led the creation of the Interactive Infographics Department at El Mundo (, Spain), in 2000. His department is widely considered a pioneer in online news. Cairo’s team won more Malofiej and Society for News Design (SND) infographics international awards than any other news organization worldwide between 2001 and 2005.

Cairo’s most recent award is a 2019 Sigma data journalism award ( for a large investigative project in collaboration with Google and El Universal, one of the largest national newspapers in Mexico. Cairo’s students have also been recognized in international visualization and infographics competitions such as Information is Beautiful and Computation+Journalism.

In the past decade, Cairo has taught and consulted in nearly thirty countries. He has worked for Microsoft, Google, the U.S. National Guard, the Congressional Budget Office, and many other companies and institutions. He has been the keynote speaker at many conferences about data journalism, data science, and visualization, such as Microsoft’s Data Insights, the JMP Discovery Summit, Georgia International Conference on Information Literacy, New Directions in Health Communication, or the Ihaka Lectures.


Courses taught

JMM 331/622 Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization
JMM 592/692 Data Visualization Studio
JMM 650 3D Infographics and Animation


Featured Publications

Selected books

Cairo, A. How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter About Visual Information, W.W. Norton, 2019. ISBN-13: 978-1324001560

Cairo, A. The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication. Peachpit Press, 2016. ISBN-13: 978-032193407-9

Cairo A. The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization. Peachpit Press, 2013. ISBN-13: 978-032183473-7

Selected papers, prologues, forewords, and articles

The New York Times. Those Hurricane Maps Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean. August 28, 2019.

Scientific American magazine. Graphics That Seem Clear Can Easily Be Misread. September 1, 2019.

Cairo. A. “If Anything on This Graphic Causes Confusion, Ignore the Entire Product: Reading a Visualization is an Experience Often Mediated by People Other Than Designers Themselves.” IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, forthcoming 2020.

Millet B., Carter, Andrew, Broad, K., Cairo. A., Evans, S., Majumdar, S. “Hurricane risk communications: Visualization and behavioral science concepts.” Weather, Climate, and Society, forthcoming 2020.

“Wandering multiplicity,” foreword for Cartography 2, book by Kenneth Field, ESRI Press, forthcoming, 2020.

“Orthodoxy and eccentricity,” foreword for Data Sketches, book by Nadieh Bremer and Shirley Wu, CRC Press, forthcoming, 2020.

“The Dawn of a Philosophy of Visualization,” prologue for Data Visualization in Society, V.V.A.A., Amsterdam University Press, forthcoming, 2020.

Cairo A. 2014 “Ethical infographics, ” in IRE Journal.

Selected book chapters

Cairo, A. 2020. “To Popularize Visualization, Begin With the Children.” Malofiej 26th book, forthcoming.

Cairo, A., González, X. 2020 ““From pencil to data,” in Information visualization in the era of innovative journalism, Routledge, forthcoming 2020.

Cairo, A. 2017. “‘Data exploration’ in Understanding Understanding, Richard Saul Wurman (ed.) Oro Group.

Cairo, A. 2017 “Graphic Lies, Misleading Visuals: Reflections on the Challenges and Pitfalls of Evidence-Driven Visual Communication,” in New Challenges for Data Design, David Bihanic (ed.) Springer.

Cairo, A. 2016. “Moral Visualizations: Rule Utilitarianism and the Design of Information Graphics,” in Gower Handbook of Information Design. Ole Lond (ed.) Gower.


Selected Keynotes

Note: to see Professor Cairo’s complete past and upcoming talks, consult his public schedule here

2020: Keynote at the Georgia International Conference on Information Literacy. Savannah, GA.
2019: Keynote at the Federal Reserve Decisions With Data Conference. New York, NY
2019: Keynote at the Great Lakes Business Intelligence & Big Data Summit. Detroit, MI.
2018: Keynote at JMP Discovery Summit. Cary, NC.
2018: Keynote at the Ihaka Lectures, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
2018: Keynote at Turning the Tide: New Directions in Health Communication. Columbia University, NY.
2017: Keynote at Microsoft Data Insights Summit, Seattle, WA.
2017: Keynote at Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTEN). Washington DC
2014: Keynote at IEEE Vis

Conferences and events at the University of Miami

These are events hosted by Professor Cairo:

Yearly since 2016: VizUM, the University of Miami’s symposium on visualization.

Yearly since 2017: Data Intersections, the University of Miami’s symposium on the ethics of data, technology, and design.

2016: Digital Humanities+Data Journalism conference.


Selected Media Appearances

The Economist: Review of How Charts Lie: “Axes of evil: Lies, damn lies, and charts.”

Publishers Weekly: Review of How Charts Lie: Starred review.

Interview by The Washington Post: “Alberto Cairo says charts can lie in all sorts of ways.”

C-SPAN BookTV: Coverage of lecture in Boston.

Interview by BBC Mundo: “Huracán Dorian: ¿qué nos dice exactamente el cono que predice

el paso de un ciclón y por qué tanta gente lo malinterpreta?”

Interview by Google: “Newsmakers: Storytelling through numbers with Alberto Cairo.”

Interview by Microsoft news: “Show, Don’t Tell.”

Interview at National Geographic: “The “Rules” of Data Visualization Get an Update.”

Interview by Libération: “Il est important de comprendre que les graphiques ne sont pas des illustrations”

Interview by The Young Turks.

Podcast interview with Storytelling with Data.

Podcast interview with Data Viz Today.


Featured Projects

The Functional Art