Project description

Nexo is a digital media outlet focusing on explanatory news in Brazil. It’s a pioneer in this kind of journalism in the country, and the use of data and graphics is a key element of its coverage. Nexo’s data team has five members — a data scientist, an infographist, an intern and two editors. Unlike many newsrooms in Brazil, at Nexo, the data team’s work is not only focused on producing additional imagery for reporters’ texts. The group is an independent editorial unit, with its own editorial assignments, ranging amongst a variety of subjects: politics, economics, sports, culture, science, environment, etc.
The data team publishes, on average, three data visualization pieces per week. Within Nexo’s editorial project, the infographics section aims to improve access to public information and data and to innovate in the presentation format and language at the same time. Be it by processing large amounts of data, by revisiting data that is relevant for public debate even when not recently released, by uncovering patterns that were not yet surfaced, and by translating and showing information in a comprehensive and efficient way. Our goal is to give a new meaning and space to infographics and to collaborate to improve society’s literacy for reading data. Nexo’s data team also works in interactive and special features, in conjunction with other newsroom teams, such as reporters, designers, and developers.
Today, one of the contributions that Nexo is considered to have had in the Brazilian journalistic ecosystem is the centrality given to graphics and data throughout its coverage and their transversality across the editorial model. Nexo’s work was recognized in 2018 by Malofiej, a prestigious infographics award. In the ‘Portfolio’ category, Nexo won a bronze medal.

What makes this project innovative?

Nexo is the only Brazilian news outlet that has an exclusive section for data and infographics. The newsroom organization, which allows autonomy for the data team, is also an innovation in the Brazilian media scenario. The team stands out for its efficiency, producing 3 data visualization pieces per week. The culture of planning forehand and not only covering what is breaking news or recent data releases, but all kinds and sources of relevant information, is part of what makes this possible, in conjunction with the commitment and talent of the team's professionals.
In 2018, the group took a step forward and created the "nos eixos" (“in axes”, in free translation), the first Brazilian newsletter focused on data journalism. Every month, “nos eixos” details the production of a Nexo infographic piece, such as the database used and how the most appropriate view for the data was chosen. The newsletter also highlights outstanding infographics and data pieces from other news outlets.

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

Nexo has been receiving recognition by national and international peers and entities as a relevant player in the field of data journalism and infographics. We like to believe that we are contributing to the development and enhancement of techniques, methodologies and reach of this field in the country. And also contributing to the improvement in the literacy of readers for interpreting infographics and data, especially in the digital environment. Audience is an important metric for impact. Amongst the top 10 most read stories of Nexo ever, 5 were produced by the data team. It happens quite often that the graphics, when published, generate peaks of visualizations and engagement. Also, the newsletter "Nos Eixos" despite being a new product, has a large subscribers base and an outstanding open rate (figures can be shared privately). Finally, in terms of diversity of use, our graphics are shared and recommended by politicians, judges, professors, teachers, and students of different levels.

Source and methodology

The main source of data are Brazilian public institutions, primarily from ministries and the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). The team usually works with microdata provided by these institutions. Other sources include web scraping, web APIs and data from international organizations (e.g. UN, WHO, World Bank) and databases built in connection with academic papers.

Technologies Used

Data is entirely processed using R, mainly Tidyverse packages. Adobe Illustrator is used for static content and D3 for interactive visualizations. Google Spreadsheets is used for smaller and manual data collection and QGIS sometimes complements R in the map production.

Project members

Gabriel Zanlorenssi - Data Scientist, Rodolfo Almeida - Infographist, Renata Rizzi - Editor

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