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Eclipse Percentage Path, North America, New York Times
Eclipse Percentage Path, North America, New York Times

The New York Times charted the path of the total and partial eclipse across North America. Image: Screenshot, The New York Times



Eclipse Mania, Coastal Earthquakes, Bridge Collapse, and Breaking the Ramadan Fast

A total eclipse of the sun, two earthquakes in opposite parts of the world, the beginning of pollen and fire seasons around the world — the force of nature has been in the news in recent weeks, as has the force of human error, as evidenced by the destruction of a US bridge after being struck by a freighter and the deaths of seven humanitarian workers in an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip. In this edition of our Top 10 in Data Journalism, which considered stories between March 25 and April 7, we also highlighted an analysis of the cost of Ramadan in different countries, the transportation methods people use to get to work, and the results of a questionnaire on the state of data journalism around the world in 2023.

How Much Does It Cost to Break the Ramadan Fast?

Argentinian Iftar costs, Al Jazeera

Image: Screenshot, Al Jazeera

This week marked the end of Ramadan, the holy month in which Muslims around the world fast from pre-sunrise to sunset.  According to Al Jazeera, there are around 1.9 billion Muslims worldwide, approximately 25% of the global population. Islam worshippers’ daily period of abstinence is broken with dates and water, followed by a meal known as iftar. The Al Jazeera reporting team compared the prices of dozens of ingredients from different supermarket chains in 14 countries around the world, such as Argentina, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom, to see how much the prices of a traditional meal have increased over the past year and what the cost of a serving in each country.

Taiwan, New York City Shaken by Earthquakes

Taiwan recent earthquake history, Washington Post

Image: Screenshot, The Washington Post

On April 3, Taiwan was hit by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake, leaving at least nine people dead and another 963 injured, according to local authorities. The Washington Post used a live feed to cover the event, featuring an analysis of where earthquakes have hit Taiwan since 1900 and why the island is prone to temblors, alongside maps from the epicenter and the aftershocks of the earthquake and even testimonies from reporters who live on the small island. The earthquake, which also damaged buildings and caused landslides, was the biggest to hit Taiwan in 25 years. After a quake in 1999 that left more than 2,000 people dead, authorities mandated stricter building codes.

Just two days after that event, a 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck in central New Jersey, about an hour west of New York City, frightening residents and tourists. It was the strongest tremor in the densely populated region since 2011 and its effects could be felt from Maine to Virginia, but there were no reports of injuries or major damage anywhere in the country. Unlike Taiwan, which is situated between three tectonic plates, the New York City region is not typically prone to powerful quakes. As The Wall Street Journal showed, the earthquake on April 5th was a rare occurrence compared to the track record of the US West Coast, where several earthquakes with a magnitude of 4 or greater have been recorded since 2000.

How a Baltimore Bridge Collapsed in 30 Seconds

Straits Times visual investigation Key Bridge collapse

Image: Screenshot, Straits Times

In this visual investigation, the Straits Times explains how a Singapore-flagged container ship collapsed a bridge in the US port city of Baltimore in less than 30 seconds. According to official sources, the March 26 tragedy occurred when the gigantic ship experienced power outages, began drifting out of control, and was unable to avoid one of the pillars of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. At the time of the accident, six workers were carrying out repairs on the bridge roadway above (two bodies have since been recovered and the other four are missing, presumed dead). The tragedy generated numerous, related reports on marine freight, such as how ships have become increasingly larger in the years since the bridge was built, and the ongoing response, including how the port’s channel will be cleared and changes to the routes of ships that had Baltimore as their destination.

Destroyed Universities of Gaza

Israa University, Gaza, destroyed NBC News

Image: Screenshot, NBC News

More than six months into its offensive in Gaza, Israel is facing increasing international scrutiny, especially after a series of airstrikes killed seven humanitarian workers in Gaza, most of them foreigners. In this special, NBC News exposes another side of the conflict: the uncertain future of young Palestinians after the destruction of the territory’s universities by Israeli forces. For this report, NBC News analyzed more than 60 videos and photos and conducted interviews with university administrators, professors, students, and experts. According to the team, at least five of Gaza’s seven main universities have been destroyed or partially damaged. The Israel Defence Forces claimed these buildings and facilities were targeted because they were being used by Hamas militants “above and below ground,” a charge that was denied by both university administrators and students.

Total Eclipse Crosses North America

Total Eclipse Path, New York Times

Image: Screenshot, The New York Times

On April 8, millions of people in various locations in Mexico, Canada, and the United States watched a total eclipse of the sun. The astronomical event was also responsible for heating up the hotel sector in the so-called “path of totality,” the narrow band of locations where the moon’s shadow most fully blocked the sunlight. To help eclipse-chasers, The New York Times published a guide with several maps, and also provided examples of what could be seen — such as the sun’s outer atmosphere, which is normally hidden by the star’s overall brightness — and felt — like a sudden drop in temperature as the moon’s shadow blocks the sunlight — and (not) heard — like the eerie the silence of birds. The guide even gave tips on what color clothes to wear. And for those who missed the event, the Times also indicated when and where the next eclipses will be around the world (Spoiler alert: the next one in the US won’t occur for two decades.)

How People Get Around Town — Around the World

Share of transport modes by group and population, in percent

Share of transport modes by group (automobile, walking and cycling, public transport) and population, in percent (from under one million persons up to more than 10 million). Image: Screenshot, Der Spiegel

Many municipalities in Germany are trying to push cars out of their city centers and build more cycling paths. And according to Der Spiegel, they are not alone in this endeavor. In this piece, the magazine showed which means of transport residents of different cities around the world use to travel around where they live. Using data from almost 800 cities in 61 countries, compiled in The ABC of Mobility study, the reporters present some conclusions. Among them: the smaller the city, the more likely its inhabitants are to take a car; the larger the city, the greater the importance of public transport. According to the study’s abstract, the use of cars in cities has many negative impacts, including pollution, noise, and wasted space for parking. However, Der Spiegel pointed out that, although a transportation comparison on a global scale is possible, European and North American cities are overrepresented in the data.

How Climate Change Is Making Pollen Season Worse

Pollen volume increase and sensitivity in Europe, Le Monde

Percentage of population sensitized to ragweed pollen, projected into the future (2041-2060), in Europe. Image: Screenshot, Le Monde

Spring has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere. Along with the budding flowers comes pollen, which results in watery eyes, burning throats, and runny noses for many people. In France, almost one in three adults suffers from a pollen allergy, according to the French National Agency for Food Safety, Environmental and Occupational Health. And with climate change, this tends to get worse. In this piece, Le Monde explained how higher temperatures could mean longer pollen seasons, how the increased presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing pollen production, and how pollen grains are not only becoming more numerous, but more allergenic due to atmospheric pollutants.

Keeping an Eye on Global Wildfires

Wildfire area burned by land cover type, 2002 to 2022, Our World in Data

Image: Screenshot, Our World in Data

A wildfire is an uncontrolled burning of vegetation, which can be started by human activity or natural causes such as lightning. The results can be catastrophic. At the beginning of this year alone, at least 131 people died due to forest fires in Chile. To track the progression of wildfires throughout 2024 and understand the historical trends of these events, Our World in Data created a dashboard with a series of charts, such as area burned by year and by type of terrain, share of land burned, and carbon emissions from forest fires, which will be constantly updated. Most of the data is from the Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS). Among the reporters’ conclusions, a surprise: contrary to what would be expected, since the beginning of the 2000s, “there has been a noticeable decline in the annual extent of land affected by wildfires.”

Hidden Threat to Civil Rights from Facial Recognition Technology

Protest data from Russia, ACLED

Image: Screenshot, Rest of World

Facial recognition technology, combined with a global rise in authoritarianism, could spell the end of protests as we know them, Rest of World believes. In this special, the outlet provided information about how governments around the world are using this type of technology to monitor demonstrations and target protesters, ending a certain degree of anonymity and, with it, a level of protection that mass demonstrations previously enjoyed. The report includes data on protests from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and presents interviews with investigators, activists, and people targeted by facial recognition systems in three countries with perilous civil rights situations: Russia, where the technology is used to detain people before they can participate in protests; India, where activists fear facial recognition could be used to target minorities, specifically Muslims; and in Iran, where it has been used to identify women who were not wearing a hijab, which is required by the country’s law.

Catching Fish, But Not Money

Philippines province fish production, Bulatlat

Image: Screenshot, Bulatlat

For the past decade, tuna has been the Philippines’ most valuable commercial fish for export, securing the country’s position as one of the world’s leading tuna producers. But a months-long Bulatlat investigation revealed that, despite the billions generated by the booming industry year after year, Filipino fishermen suffer from increasing poverty. According to the outlet, this is because the industry favors industrial-scale commercial fishing fleets to the detriment of thousands of ordinary fishermen. Most of the profits from a tuna catch go to boat owners and operators. Even in General Santos City, nicknamed the tuna capital of the Philippines, the ecosystem is not favorable, according to interviews with officials, fishermen, and family members from that city and nearby Sarangani province. Since 2018, this region has had one of the highest incidences of poverty among fishermen. Data were sourced from the Philippine Statistics Authority’s website for open-access data, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

BONUS: State of Data Journalism Survey

State of Data Journalism Survey, 2024

Image: Screenshot, European Journalism Centre

The European Journalism Center released on April 2 its third annual State of Data Journalism survey. The idea of ​​the project is to follow the latest developments in this rapidly evolving field and shed light on the direction of the profession. You can check out detailed results here on industry demographics, skills, tools, working practices, and the growing use of open source research and AI in data journalism. Through the link, it is also possible to download the complete report in PDF.

Ana Beatriz Assam is GIJN’s Portuguese editor and a Brazilian journalist. She has worked as a freelance reporter for the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, mainly covering stories featuring data journalism. She also works for the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) as an assistant coordinator of journalism courses.

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