One of my final duties as Data Journalism Editor at The Times & The Sunday Times was to submit the team’s work over the last year for consideration by the jury of the Data Journalism Awards, which recognises outstanding work in the field worldwide.
I’m delighted to report that we’ve made the shortlist in the category of best team in a large newsroom.
Among the other shortlisted teams are the BBC, Bloomberg, FiveThirtyEight, the Guardian and the New York Times. The winner will be announced on 31 May.
Here is our award nomination.
The Data Team is a unit of programmer-journalists embedded in the newsrooms of The Times and The Sunday Times, the UK’s newspapers of record. The team works with colleagues across all subjects to deliver groundbreaking data-driven exclusives. Every story must meet exacting editorial standards in order to make it into the print and digital editions of these daily titles.
Data journalism should not leave the reader asking ‘so what?’. The work of the Data Team is to combine rigorous analysis with insight and context, in order to deliver news that matters to our sophisticated audience.
1. Oxfam scandal
Sean O’Neill (Chief Reporter, The Times); Leila Haddou (Data Team); Bruno Waterfield (Brussels Correspondent, The Times)
The Times’ investigation into the conduct of Oxfam staff in Haiti reverberated around the world. The Data Team was centrally involved in the research for two of the articles that made up the series.
At the core of the story is 11 months of old-fashioned reporting graft. But a partnership between data journalist Leila Haddou and the Times’ Chief Reporter saw data-driven OSINT techniques used to track down the charity worker at the centre of the scandal.
2. Doping in skiing
George Arbuthnott (Deputy Insight Editor, The Sunday Times); Jonathan Calvert (Insight Editor, The Sunday Times); Tom Wills (Data Team); Louis Goddard (Data Team)
Following on from its revelations of widespread doping in athletics, The Sunday Times was given data from a new whistleblower, this time relating to the world of winter sports.
In the past, journalists used leaked documents, photographs and recordings to expose wrongdoing. The Data Team analysed skiers’ blood test results to reveal the extent of cheating. They don’t teach how to analyse leaked blood values in journalism school, so the Data Team and Insight worked with experts to develop a methodology.
3. Unsolved crime
Tom Harper (Home Affairs Correspondent, The Sunday Times); Leila Haddou (Data Team)
Most news reports on crime statistics focus on the headline numbers: violent offences up or down, etc. The Data Team took a deep dive into the data and found the story that everyone else had missed.
Analysis of open data from the British government discovered a startling trend: police were increasingly blaming the victims for the failure of their investigations.
4. Waiting times
Kat Lay (Health Correspondent, The Times); Tom Wills (Data Team)
Britain’s National Health Service is increasingly fragmented, with patients under different regional health boards receiving different treatment. The Data Team performed a geospatial analysis that brought the problem home. This novel approach allowed reporters to home in on areas illustrating the regional divide. The result is a brilliant example of data enriching traditional reporting.
5. Trump tweets
Sam Joiner (Interactive Editor, The Times); Louis Goddard (Data Team)
A year on from his inauguration, how to make sense of Donald Trump’s Twitter account? It’s hard to keep up with what he tweeted yesterday, let alone the last year.
The Data Team mined 25,000 tweets, using text analysis and visualisation to show how the President’s rhetoric shifted from the pre-election period, to the campaign, to elected office.
The resulting story combined data visualisation with commentary to give a sense of the totality.
Jon Ungoed-Thomas (Chief Reporter, The Sunday Times); Tom Wills (Data Team); George Turner (The Sunday Times)
More homes are being built in Britain – but they’re shrinking. Innovative use of environmental data shed light on the housing crisis.
EU law requires environmental performance data to be published for all homes for sale or rent. These include floor area, which the Data Team used for the first time to show the rise of the ‘rabbit hutch flats’ phenomenon.
7. Parliament’s gender gap
Rosamund Urwin (Financial Services Correspondent, The Sunday Times); Tom Wills (Data Team)
The gender pay gap is a hot topic, and politicians from all parties in the UK are weighing in. The Data Team scraped the register of parliamentarians’ interests to see whether they had their own house in order.
8. Corporate lobbying
Alex Ralph (Business Correspondent, The Times); Harry Wilson (City Editor, The Times); Tom Wills (Data Team); Ryan Watts (Data Team); Kira Schacht (Data Team)
Many FTSE 100 companies say they do not spend money for political ends. The Data Team wrote a scraper to trawl the Parliament website, producing an exclusive dataset showing payments from corporations to groups of MPs. The team also analysed the EU lobbying register.
9. Stormont shutdown
Sean O’Neill (Chief Reporter, The Times); Leila Haddou (Data Team)
The parliament of Northern Ireland has been on hiatus for a year, after a power-sharing agreement between Nationalist and Unionist parties broke down. But the assembly members managed to put their differences aside for 46 minutes in order to claim their salaries.
10. Top 40 over time
Matthew Moore (Media Correspondent, The Times); Ciaran Fitzpatrick (Data Team); Tom Wills (Data Team)
Not that song again! This story looked back at 60 years of music charts and found today’s hits stick around for longer than ever before.
The numbers go back to the 1950s, but the Data Team used modern scraping and analysis to show the latest cultural trends.