5 Exceptional ways online journalism used data in 2017


Over the weekend, the Online News Association announced the winners of the 2017 Online Journalism Awards. Innovative reporting on leaked data, prison reform, and undue police force, led coverage that garnered top honours. And, among those celebrated, many exhibited exceptional uses of data driven storytelling. We scraped the surface with a look at just five. The full list is available here.

1. The Wall

Created by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and winner of the large newsroom prize for excellence in audio digital storytelling.

From the creators:

“For our podcast about the wall, we faced a challenge: how best to tell the story of the porous barrier on our southern border through audio. Using tools we have developed to turn data into sound, we mapped the border through a wall sonification: low notes represent tall fence, higher tones were fence designed to stop vehicles, an airy keyboard drone signals gaps.”

The Wall also included the first online map of fences and unfenced spaces along the border, with the data available on GitHub for other journalists to use.

Visit The Wall here.

2. After Solitary

Created by FRONTLINE and Emblematic Group and winner of the excellence in immersive storytelling award.

From the creators:

“After Solitary places viewers inside environments created by taking thousands of photos of the actual cell and prison and stitching them together into fully dimensional scenes. The subject of the film, Kenny, was then filmed at 8i studios using their videogrammetry technology and dropped into scenes as holograms.”

Visit After Solitary here.

3. Weigh Anchor

Created by The Globe and Mail and winner of the large newsroom explanatory reporting prize.

Image: Weigh Anchor.

From the creators:

“Weigh Anchor is a highly visual and extensively reported examination of what the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will mean for Vancouver and B.C.

The project weaves together text, animation, video, graphics, photography and exclusive data to help Canadians see beyond the rhetoric. It aims to provide a close look at sensitive shipping lanes, and what increased oil tanker traffic means for B.C.’s coastline and Canada’s oil industry.

Our journalism approaches the topic from two sides: An analysis of raw shipping data that is extrapolated and visualized to show the increase in traffic; and the story of one tug boat as it threads a narrow course through a busy port and costal islands.”

Visit Weigh Anchor here.

4. Live notifications

A technique pioneered by the Guardian US Mobile Innovation Lab and winner of the Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism.

Image: Three of the Guardian's most impactful formats.

From the creators:

"The Guardian US Mobile Innovation Lab has been pioneering with its notification experiments. It has created industry-first live notification formats that take advantage of emerging technical capabilities. It has also brought utility and relevance to users’ mobile experiences, filling their lock screens with live coverage elements, rather than only links to content."

Find out more here.

5. Berlin Marathon 2016 - How Your City Runs

Created by Berliner Morgenpost and winner of the medium newsroom sports prize.

Image: A screenshot of the map.

From the creators:

"With the interactive map, users can follow the Berlin Marathon in time lapse for the first time, and compare the runners. The application shows how fast all 35,827 runners that finished the 2016 marathon ran through the city. Each individual runner is animated as a point on the map, using the real running times. The animated field of runners can also be filtered according to sex and place of residency. In addition, the user can enter their personal best time and track their position on the map, alongside the average for the field. The map is supplemented by an aggregated ranking for runners from a particular Berlin district, German state, or country."

Visit the map here.