Project description

The small non-profit journalism organization Orb Media make world wide impact with stories relevant to billions based on global data set and published with a network of leading news brands simultaneously. With unique and sophisticated data science skills and a curious and unbiased approach the organization reveals newsworthy insights into how we are collectively faring as one global community. In this fascinating story data from 128 countries shows a seismic shift in politics across the globe. People under 40 – regardsless of their ideological preference – increasingly turn their back to traditional politics and choose protest and informal politics instead. Analyzing the data from more than a million respondents in combination with reporting in Poland, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Nicaragua and the United States show surprising similarities between young activist fighting on the traditional right and left side of the scale, for instance against immigration, for gun control, for safe school roads and against local regimes. The story shows young people are not appathetic, but often very active, just in untraditional ways. However, it also shows the younger generation are leaving power at the table when they choose not to vote as a result of their deception with traditional politics and that protests in many cases lead to the opposite of what they are fighting for.

What makes this project innovative?

This story is unique in that it is a rare example of data journalism on a global scale rather than on a local or national scale. It is also innovative as it combines open data, proprietary data, and custom-collected data. The story reporting process included fusing several different statistical methods with web scraping, chatbot data collection and on the ground reporting. We gained access to microdata for nearly a million people over many decades. We then collected comparable data in real time. We used multilevel modeling to combine the data to find hidden trends that tell an extremely relevant story about how young people are thinking about and participating in politics as accurately compared to young people in previous generations. We then took this data to the ground level of several emerging and recent elections and filled out the story with lived experiences.

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

At Orb Media, our emphasis is on global reach through global collaboration. Within 30 days of Orb's published story, Generation Activist was published by more than 400 additional media brands in at least 32 countries and 17 languages.

Source and methodology

For a complete description of the methodology, please see our public data section here: In brief, we combined data from 979,000 respondents - including our own original data collection, the European Social Survey (2002-2016), the Caucasus Barometer (2008-2017), The Americas Barometer (2004-2017), the Asian Barometer (2000-2016), the Afro Barometer (2001-2016), The World Values Survey (1984-2014), the Eurobarometer (selected years 1980-2017), the USA’s General Social Survey (1980-2016), Canada’s General Social Survey (1985-2015).

Technologies Used

We used R for data munging and analysis and visualization. We used twillio and our custom survey software for data collection.

Project members

Naja Nielsen, Dan Morrison, Chris Tyree




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