With more than 600 entries from around the world, this year’s Data Journalism Awards (DJA) saw a record number of applications. The 13 winners received a US$1,801 prize and trophy during the recent Global Editors Network (GEN) Summit in Lisbon.
All the teams submitted short videos talking about their projects, which can be viewed here.
Each of the 13 winners offered valuable insights into what kind of stories are relevant in different regions across the world. Some of the winning stories went beyond classic journalism, and into the sphere of civic engagement, like the story from Filipino website Rappler, that won the Semrush Data Journalism Award of the Year.
Not only did the team use public data on road accidents, but they did in-depth research into traffic safety in the Philippines and worked with the online community through a Facebook group to create a live feed on road safety based on the messages from their readers. It was the first organization to map traffic accidents across the Philippines and create a heat map showing the most dangerous roads.
Reuters’ project “Life in the Camps,” won Data Journalism Visualization of the Year. This story is about the camps in southern Bangladesh, and is part of a long series of reports from Reuters about the Rohingya refugee crisis.
“The camps are just one stage of this bigger story, but an important one,” said Simon Scarr, deputy head of graphics at Reuters. “The speed and scale of the exodus created the largest and most densely populated refugee settlement in the world.” This project, he said, digs deeper and tries to measure the difficult living conditions within the camps.
This story took around six weeks to make, with the support of two graphics editors and a text editor working in the Reuters office in Singapore, and journalists photographing in the camps.
The report is based on the data provided by aid agencies, who gave them exact GPS coordinates that allowed them to precisely map the camps. Reuters reporters on the ground also visited and photographed the sites with the worst conditions, which served not only to verify, but to add clarity to the story. The images show readers that these are not just dots on the map, but real people that live in those camps.
In a way, these two projects reflect the trends present in data journalism today, which include working with ever-larger datasets, like Reuters’ story on refugee camps, and engaging the readers more, as was done in Rappler’s #SaferRoads project.
This year, it was not only specific projects that were awarded prizes, two journalists were also awarded individual prizes on the basis of their portfolio.
One of them, Marie-Louise Timcke, won the award for Young Journalist of the Year. She recently became head of the interactive team at Berliner Morgenpost, a major city newspaper in Berlin that is well-known for its data-driven projects. She is also the founder of Journocode, an initiative that teaches journalists essential data skills.
Timcke first tried working with data in 2014, when, having switched to journalism from molecular medicine, she took a statistics course at the university.
“I suddenly had a crazy amount of free time and I decided to do something with it,” said Timcke. She taught programming to herself and other students, which was how Journocode was founded.
“Luckily, I had a very boring internship,” said Timcke. “So boring, in fact, that it gave me the free time to try and make my first interactive map, on which I spent an impossible amount of time, trying and failing many times.”
She arrived to Berliner Morgenpost first as an intern. She is still proud of some projects she did as an intern, and especially of one called “Berlin on your line,” which allows viewers to see how the demographic changed on each line of Berlin’s public transport. She was responsible for cleaning the heaps of messy data for this project, a task she still greatly enjoys.
“For a young data journalist, I think it’s important to be part of a good team and to get good at one core skill,” she said. “For me it was finding the data, cleaning it, and working with the statistical software. For someone else, it can be visualizing. And don’t worry about failing. I failed for the first two years of learning to be a data journalist, but I still had fun.”
To learn more about this year's trends and award winners, join GEN for a live chat in their Slack community on Friday, June 22, 2018 at 9 a.m. PDT. To sign up, visit www.datajournalismawards.slack.com.