Project description

The invesitative team of Apple Daily Taiwan branch focuses on data journalism, human rights issue, environmental protection, and public policy. We reveal big government scandals and policy mistakes. So far we have produced three in-depth feature reports combing big data analysis with wide scale field survey around Taiwan.

The first project is about a “World War Waste.” In 2018, China prohibited importing waste paper and plastics, so million tons of wastes have been transported to Taiwan. This feature reveals Taiwanese government’s passiveness toward the problem, and forces the Environmental Protection Administration to limit the waste import by accelerating the revise of regulation. In result, it has become a paragon of modern media playing the role of “the fourth estate.”

The second is called “Secrets of Recycling.” To reveal to the public where these recyclable wastes go, our team has launched an exclusive investigation in three northern cities, including Taipei, New Taipei City, and Taoyuan, by secretly stuffing nine GPS trackers into nine recyclable wastes. Three kinds of materials are our main focus: waste paper, waste paper container, and waste plastic bottle. Then, we start to follow the routes of those GPS devices closely.

Our investigative feature has revealed the secrets of Taiwanese recycling system, arousing public awareness about this issue, and forced the government to admit the mistakes and promise to strengthen the regulation. Many readers have praised our feature as an example of “professional investigative report.”

Third, farmland speculation is a serious issue in Taiwan. Around our country, many farmlands are not used to cultivate crops, but are brought to build up illegal factories or “mega cottages.”

We’ve cooperated with data researching company “Taiwanstat” to analyze the farmland price growth in the last six years. Totally, we have compiled data of more than 120 thousand farmland transactions in Taiwan and found out that during the recent years, the average farmland price has hiked up three times.

Our investigative feature report has won great acclaim after the publication. First of all, over 10 Taiwanese news outlets have quoted our report, and produced their own in-depth stories about farmland price and speculation in Taiwan. The media reports have raised the public’s awareness about this issue.

What makes this project innovative?

We combine “data searching” with “field survey,” which are both very crucial in investigative journalism. On the GPS project, We used nine GPS trackers to gather location information by stuffing them inside different recyclable materials. The tracking system constantly shows the real-time GPS information on our computer or mobile phones screen. It updates every 10 seconds. On the farmland price project, we collected and restructured the data of farmland transactions in six years, and presented the information on our feature story website. The information is totally open to the public. For example, we have divided Taiwan into four main areas: North, Central, South, and East, and then we highlighted dozens of towns with highest farmland price rise on the map. For the War Waste project, we have spent a month visiting everywhere around the whole country. For example, we witnessed massive import of foreign wastes in Keelung port, and realized how the local recycle companies were influenced. Also, we talked with the most innocent and vulnerable victims of the “World War Waste”: the poor scavengers in Taiwan who did nothing wrong but suffered most. Moreover, the investigative team gathered the international big data from 2017 to 2018 to prove that the foreign waste import was growing immensely. Taiwan, once a beautiful island country, has become “a dumpsite of developed countries” such as U.S and Japan. The team also worked closely with digital visual team to produce a “Global Waste Flow Map.”

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

Our reports are successful. "World War Waste" is one of the reports that focus on global waste flow, and is a model of multimedia website. We show various clear infographics, such as “Growth of Foreign Waste” or “Main Importers of Foreign Waste” in recent years. As a result, readers are able to grasp crucial information by checking these infographics. Furthermore, dozens of Taiwanese media have also covered the foreign waste issue based on our investigation. This forced the Environmental Protection Administration to accelerate the regulation on foreign waste by revising their policy. Our "farmland price" report has won great acclaim after the publication. First of all, over 10 Taiwanese news outlets have quoted our report, and produced their own in-depth stories about farmland price and speculation in Taiwan. The media reports have raised the public’s awareness about this issue. For example, many non-profit environmental organizations have called on the government to save farmlands from speculation. The government has promised to solve the issue after we published the in-depth story. The Counsel of Agriculture in Taiwan’s Executive Yuan admitted that Taiwan’s farmlands are the most expensive in the world, while said it would crack down on the illegal factories built on farmland.

Source and methodology

International Trade Center big data. Taiwan Custom's import Data. Savills Global Farmland Index. Taiwan Interior Ministry's Searching Site of Real Estate Transaction Price.

Technologies Used

Real-time GPS tracking system. Mapbox. HTML CSS JavaScript.

Project members

Po Chun Ho, journalist. Liang Ju Hou, journalist. Yi Jing Wu, journalist. Wei Chou Chen, journalist. Ting Jen Chen, journalist. Huan Cheng Lin, journalist. Charles Wang, visual designer. Kristi Hu, visual designer. King Hsueh, visual designer. Tiffany Keng, engineer.

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