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Data Journalism Top 10: Climate Migrants, COVID Testing Disparities, Outbreak Epicenters, Brazil’s Military

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In the midst of the pandemic, some newsrooms haven’t forgotten about the growing threat of climate change. Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from July 20 to 26 finds ProPublica partnering with The New York Times Magazine to examine climate migration and where climate refugees are moving to. On the COVID-19 front, FiveThirtyEight revealed disparities in the availability of testing sites between Black and Hispanic neighborhoods and white areas, broadcaster RBB highlighted that the risk of coronavirus was more keenly felt by low-income earners, and the Google News Initiative and Agência Lupa communicated the impact of the pandemic by visually putting readers at the epicenter of an outbreak.

The Great Climate Migration

ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine partnered to examine the issue of climate migration, in a project supported by the Pulitzer Center. In a visual essay in the NYT, they estimate that the barely-livable hot zones in the world will increase from the current 1% to 19% by 2070. Where will the people living in these areas go? The article looks at trends in population shifts. Read about their climate migration model here.

Where Will Climate Refugees Go?

While this ProPublica story is the same as the NYT visual essay above, the lead paragraphs and design are different and worth a look. Among the findings: the climate in certain regions will become too hostile for farming and people will lose their ability to farm grains and vegetables. Roughly a billion people will be pushed outside zones in which humans have lived for thousands of years.

Visualizing an Outbreak Epicenter

Funded by the Google News Initiative, the project No Epicentro (“At the Epicenter”) asks: What if all confirmed COVID-19 victims in Brazil were your neighbors? Published by Agência Lupa, it is available just in Portuguese for now — there’ll be an English version soon —but you can run it through an automated translator, and it’s easy to understand. The data and code are free to download.

Brazil Military’s Conflicts of Interest

By analyzing data in Brazil’s Transparency Portal and cross-referencing with ownership data on, Brazilian news site Metrópoles discovered that the country’s military had signed supply contracts with at least 14 companies owned by soldiers on active duty. In three cases, the companies were providing goods and services to the exact battalions where the owners were serving. These projects received at least 2.6 million reals (about half a million USD) from public coffers. (In Portuguese.)

Low Earners Have Higher Coronavirus Risk

Inspired by a piece in The New York Times, broadcaster rbb24 took a look at different work sectors in Germany to see if there was a significant, negative correlation between physical contact and low-paying jobs. Its analysis found that besides healthcare personnel, low earners do have the highest risk of contracting the coronavirus due to higher potential for contact through their jobs, especially in the retail and catering sectors.

Need a COVID-19 Test? Be Rich and White.

An analysis by FiveThirtyEight found that there were disparities in the availability of COVID-19 testings sites in the United States between predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods — where people are more likely to experience longer wait times and understaffed testing centers — and largely white areas. A similar disparity exists between richer and poorer neighborhoods. Bonus: FiveThirtyEight also did a podcast interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US.

Germany’s Rental Price “Brake”

When Germany introduced a “rent brake” in 2015, which was supposed to stop or at least slow down the rise in rents, the initiative was applauded. But the scheme has had the opposite effect in many places. Data analyses by Panorama, a political show on the German television channel Das Erste, found that rents in many cities are not only far more expensive than legally permitted but that landlords have used a legal loophole relating to “comprehensive modernization,” or renovations, to increase rents.

Colombia Data Journalist Claudia Baez

Periodismo de Datos interviewed Colombian data journalist Claudia Báez, co-founder of independent digital media site Cuestión Pública, about data journalism in the region, her work with data, and how Cuestión Pública utilizes data to support investigative journalism. (In Spanish.)

Pitch Visual Essays to The Pudding

The Pudding, a US-based online publication that explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays, welcomes story pitches every quarter. They pay up to US$5,000 for end-to-end work on a visual essay, and they promise to provide detailed feedback even when it’s not a good fit for them. Read their guidelines here. They are also experimenting with a data-driven newsletter, which you can check out here.

Going Beyond Data Journalism

The 2020 International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ) was held online between July 20 to 24. Check out the sessions uploaded on YouTube. Among them: a workshop with data journalist Cathleen Crowley and health reporter Verah Okeyo, who shared a toolkit for data journalism projects, and did a demonstration on using the business analytics service Power BI for analyzing and visualizing data. There’s a recap of the first day of the conference here.

Thanks again to Marc Smith of Connected Action for gathering the links and graphing them. The Top Ten #ddj list is curated weekly.

Eunice Au is GIJN’s program coordinator. Previously, she was a Malaysia correspondent for Singapore’s The Straits Times, and a journalist at the New Straits Times. She has also written for The Sun, Malaysian Today, and Madam Chair.


For a look at NodeXL’s mapping on #ddj and data journalism on Twitter, check out this map.

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