Project description

BBC News Visual and Data Journalism Team has produced outstanding content over the past 12 months, covering topics as diverse as the UK’s National Health Service, President Trump’s tweets and the tampon tax. The team has two main goals: to present the main news topics of the day to a general audience, and to find original stories using data journalism techniques.The first entry in our portfolio, the NHS Tracker achieves both of these goals. It enables the audience to check on NHS performance in their area and the data gathered for the tracker was also used to create news stories not just for the main BBC TV bulletins, but also for the news website and regional BBC TV stations across the UK. The Visual and Data Journalism Team within the BBC works with specialist teams across the organisation, including such desks as health, business, politics and BBC World Service language teams. It also works on stories with organisations outside the BBC, such the Office for National Statistics, for example on the crime calculator project listed below and the Open Data Institute Leeds, on the house prices project.In presenting our visual and data journalism we put our audiences at the heart of what we do. We are conscious that our journalism must work on the devices most used by our audience, such as smart phones, so we design our content mobile first.We also attempt to make the complex simple and make sure that we have told our stories in a way that is readily approachable by all audiences, regardless of their individual data literacy.

What makes this project innovative?

We don’t seek out innovation for its own sake. Our aim is tell stories clearly, simply and immediately. Our work often focuses on personal relevance calculators, several of which are included in this entry, which give the audience a personal as well a national view of a story or issue.This simple but effective approach has been refined over the years, but largely behind the scenes. As larger data sets become available and better technology enables faster connectivity we have used them both to serve richer content, but the clear and simple presentation of our journalism has remained a constant. For specific innovations, see the BBC Election Twitter Bot entry in the innovation category.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

The portfolio above has reached a very wide audience across BBC websites and TV channels, and has been translated into many languages for BBC World Service, including Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Russian, Pashto, Uzbek and Spanish. Several of the stories above have been picked up by other news organisation both in the UK and abroad and the NHS tracker has been recognised by the industry for its innovative use of data.

Source and methodology

It is only possible to give a brief overview here of the sources and methodology used in the 10 projects submitted. Most often we use open data that we gather from social media or government agencies. We also use data gathered exclusively by BBC colleagues, for example in the project listed to map the influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. More detail on methodology is available on each of the project pages listed, typically at the foot of relevant page.

Technologies Used

To produce a portfolio of work takes a lot of different tools and technologies. For data analysis we use R, (where we produce our own bespoke packages) Excel, Google Sheets, for building interactives we use a variety of JavaScript libraries and Adobe software and for mapping we use Carto and open source software such as QGIS.

Project members

BBC News Visual and Data Journalism Team


Additional links


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