Project description

Creating two unique data sets, the project provides an insight into killings in Denmark, which has not previously existed.

The first data set consists of figures and facts of all 1,338 killings committed during the past 25 years (1992-2016), while the second set of data is an overview of all penalties given for murder (manslaughter) since Denmark got is first Civil Code in 1866.

Together the two sets of data answer questions about the relationship between the murderers and victims, how and by which weapon the victims are being killed, it tells us about the crime scenes, the development of criminal offenses, the sentences and finally the extent of spouse and underage murderers. All new information we haven’t yet been able to document in the existing data in the field.

The knowledge and new information have been conveyed by DR with several tv- and radio-segments and no less than 28 well-versed articles, interactive graphics and new digital narrative formats that dive deep into detail as well as create statistical insights and clear up misconceptions.

See for example:
Analysis: Why the murder rate is going down: https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/indland/faerre-bliver-slaaet-ihjel
Analysis: You get killed by your dearest: https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/indland/25-aars-drab-afsloerer-vi-slaar-oftest-vores-allernaermeste-ihjel
Interactive: Details of all killings in your area: https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/webfeature/drabskortet
An interactive walk through the deadliest neighborhood: https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/webfeature/holmbladsgaderuten
Do your own analysis of all killings: https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/indland/interaktiv-grafik-se-drab-gennem-25-aar

What makes this project innovative?

For the first time ever, we are able to give the users a comprehensive overview and a fact-based perspective on all killings in Denmark in recent years – all delivered in well-versed articles, digital narratives and interactive graphics where we give the users the possibility to investigate patterns, trends and developments in the killings, and thus giving them a chance to gain a little more insight into the murderers, the victims, the sentences and penalties, the media coverage and the crime itself. It is rare for a newsroom to conduct something that resembles actual scientific research, but in this case, we did so to the extent that our data is now used by The Department of Justice research department. In that sense, this project was innovative in both scope and presentation.

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

Our project has not led to any ‘rolling heads’. This type of investigative data journalism has a more uncovering character. Therefore, the primary impact of this project is that it has made both the public and researchers and professionals better equipped by giving them a more systematic and evidence-based knowledge. Sources that earlier spoke from a gut feeling and single case-knowledge do now have a broader and more well-founded research to underpin former more or less superficial assessments. We reached an audience of more than 2,5 million users across platforms during the week (Denmark has 5,7 million inhabitants).

Source and methodology

For the data regarding 25 years of killings we found an older dissertation where killings in Denmark had been systematically covered in the period 1946-1970. We then found a Forensic Scientist who’s currently writing a similar dissertation for the period 1992-2016. We contacted him and were given press releases for each killing, whereby we were able to find and systematize public available information about each killing through Infomedia searches using unique search keys. (Infomedia is a Danish media monitoring company) After collecting all existing data as well as indexing qualitative descriptions of killings committed from 1992-2016 into different parameters such as time, place, sex and age etc., we then began to look at the killings quantitatively and explore tendencies across the different parameters. The next step then became how we should convey the data to the public. Here we chose to transform and condense the data to JSON for use in online projects. Our circular filter-contraption was our highest priority (https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/indland/interaktiv-grafik-se-drab-gennem-25-aar). Our designer and developer made several iterations using different patterns (phyllotaxis, Dieter Rams inspired, random variations), but settled on a clean pattern for many elements and a phyllotaxis-pattern when fewer ones are shown. Some major hacks were made to achieve a seamless user-experience. Our map with all municipalities in Denmark was the other solution (https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/webfeature/drabskortet). A rather simple solution with a few extra not so simple features like the mini-map. A full description of the methodology can be read here: https://www.dr.dk/etik-og-rettelser/transparens/saadan-har-dr-kortlagt-mere-end-1300-drab-i-danmark For the data concerning sentences and penalties for murder (manslaughter) since 1866, we went to Statistics Denmark’s archives and looked through their statistical overviews and crime tables for – among other things – the sex of the murderers and the sentences and penalties given. We read and entered these manually, after which we started processing and analyzing the data set. A full description of the methodology can be read here: https://www.dr.dk/etik-og-rettelser/transparens/domme-fra-drab-gennem-mere-end-150-aar-saadan-har-databaseredaktionen

Technologies Used

Primary analysis was done using Excel and SPSS. The interactive elements were developed using vanilla-JS for the circular-filter-gizmo. D3 and TopoJSON was used to display the interactive map. The map was downloaded from the official Danish map-authority; then processed with Qgis and Mapshaper.org. Both solutions used grunt, webpack, babel, github etcetera. All but one image are SVG’s and everything are packaged into one big file – including the data and text – for a speedy user-experience. After gzip they are 189KB and 381KB big respectively. Microsoft Visual Code was used as editor.

Project members

Nis Kielgast, Alexander Hecklen, Bo Elkjær, Jens Lykke Brandt, Simone Cecilie Møller & Katrine Birkedal Frich

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